New York–based, English-born photographer Alexi Lubomirski has photographed stars including Jennifer Aniston, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift for the covers of Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. In recent years, he has garnered attention for his work as official photographer to Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, during their engagement and wedding. For the fall print issue of DuJour, he turned his lens on Julianne Moore. “She is one of those incredible subjects who possesses such beauty that it is difficult to take a bad picture of her,” says Lubomirski, who was thrilled to be back on set with his colleagues after a long hiatus. “The whole day, everybody was chatting as if they had not seen each other in years!”
This October, Lubomirski will publish his second book Talk To Me Always (in 2014, he published Princely Advice for a Happy Life, a book written for his two young sons). In it, he showcases his photography interspersed with his poetry—and all the proceeds will benefit the humanitarian charity Concern Worldwide. Below, we talked to Lubomirski about his beautiful and deeply personal new book.
Do you consider yourself a photographer first and foremost?
I was, and still am, a fashion and portrait photographer, and I have been extraordinarily blessed in that field. The title of photographer, however, had become a self-inflicted restriction on my creativity. Thankfully, several years ago, I recognized the limitations that I was placing on myself and made a decision to allow any form of creative inspiration to manifest itself into whatever medium served it best, be it poetry, prose, painting, or, of course, photography.
Were you hesitant to put out a book of your poetry?
Putting your poetry out into the world is one of the most horrifying and scary things to do. I had already written a fatherly advice book for my sons and published it a few years ago and that was scary enough, but poetry was taking it to a whole new level! I have been writing poems for about the last 12 to 15 years. At first most of my poetry was about, and for, my wife. Ever since we have been married, I have written her a poem every month to celebrate our ‘month-aversary.’ All of those poems, however, are for her and are not in this book, although she did release a couple for me to publish. The rest of the poetry covers many different themes, from hope to courage, loss, fatherhood, nature and romance.
What do you love about the intersection of poetry and photography?
At first I was rather dubious about combining photography and poetry, simply because I know that when a person sees a photo, we automatically have hundreds, if not thousands, of references that it invokes, which could be emotions or memories. So I felt that somehow the image and the emotions that it brought up, would pollute the emotions that the poetry would invoke. Over time and organically, images started falling into place next to certain poems and vice versa and they ended up feeding each other rather than stealing from each other.
Are the photographs in the book new?
It is a very mixed bag. A lot of the photos are personal and others are outtakes from fashion shoots. Interestingly, over the years, when I am doing fashion editorials for magazines, I would more often than not come up with a storyline about who the character was in this narrative, the emotions that they carry with them and the story and motive behind who they are playing. Sometimes I would tell the story to the models to help them get into character and they would either be very interested and take it all in or not understand at all the relevance of what I was telling them. Once I started putting together poetry for this book I found these old photos and was able to tap into the old stories behind them. So on some pages the poetry fed the imagery and in other instances the imagery fed the poetry.
Tell us about Concern Worldwide and how you got involved as an ambassador for the organization?
When I received my first paycheck as a photographer, it was the first time that I had some money left over after paying my bills. I always wanted to be able to give money to charity on a monthly basis and, in 2003, I connected with Concern Worldwide. Cut to 2015, I wrote a fatherly advice book for my sons and donated all the proceeds to the organization. The book then got translated into six languages and raised tens of thousands of dollars for the charity! Since then, I have become a global ambassador for the charity, traveled with them to Kenya to see the work they’re doing on the ground and continue to donate all most of my books’ proceeds to them. It’s an incredible humanitarian charity that works in 25 of the poorest countries in the world eradicating poverty. They also have emergency programs where they tackle issues like natural disasters, disease and famine.