Photography / Fashion

Gilles Bensimon talks photographing the fashion elite and collaborating with Seafolly

The iconic photographer has been transforming the scene for years, and he's not stopping anytime soon.

Gilles Bensimon has been making waves in fashion since he appeared on the scene in the 60s. A major presence in changing how the American fashion world perceived beauty, he was a key figure in the launch of American Elle and did things his way. Since, he’s carried on his own path: shooting the likes of Catherine Deneuve to Audrey Hepburn, Tina Turner to Naomi Campbell.

Now, Bensimon is working with just an iconic a brand, Seafolly, this time shooting an icon of the modern age, Victoria’s Secret Angel Romee Strijd. To celebrate the release of the playful new campaign, we caught up with the photographer to find out how he got to this very moment. Check out the exclusive Seafolly campaign by Gilles Bensimon here now too.

Was there a moment you remember falling in love with photography?

Perhaps not a specific moment, but I remember when I was 12 years old I was on holiday and I looked at my brother and I said “I wish I could take a picture of this view”. And so I bought a camera so I’d always be able to.

What did you start shooting on?

Just a point and shoot flash 35mm camera: I just bought one film and used it up and never used the camera again. (laughs) 

What does photography mean to you?

I think it’s capturing moments, I love how if you’re in the city or anywhere really, you have to capture what you’re shooting just at the right moment. That’s so exciting to me. That moment will never come again.

What impact has it had on your life?

Art and photography have meant everything to me. I have dedicated all my life, well I’d say about 86% of my life to photography. It’s been so important, ok maybe 80%. (laughs) I mean food for me means only about 0.5%, to give it context…

What has been the biggest influence for you in your work?

Nothing in particular because it’s not about the past for me. It’s all about the present for me, I feel like I’m always just starting out. Right now feels like the beginning, I feel like things are always changing and influencing me. I hope there will be even more to come.

What was it like to be a part of launching American Elle?

It was funny, we were two french men in America. We were not a part of the same community and so we were quite isolated, but we found a space for something new. We were the only photographers at the time then shooting African Americans for fashion, and people we shocked. We would just hire women we thought were right for the shoot. I fired somebody on a shoot who once called a model “Too exotic and too dark”, I just said “Goodbye then”.

Take an exclusive first look at Gilles Benison’s shoot for Seafolly below now, featuring the iconic Romee Strijd. 

14 September 2018