David LaChapelle – Heaven to Hell

Warning. Following the link below will take you to a site with some images you might not want to view at work!

David LaChapelle is a photographer, music video, advert and film director whose highly stylised and often controversial work has been at the forefront of modern high-concept art and he is responsible for images and videos which you’d probably find instantly recognisable. His book Heaven to Hell showcases his most recent photographic work and heavily features trademark conceptual shots of a wide range of celebrities in often uncompromising positions. It is vivid, over-saturated, sometimes disgusting but endlessly fascinating. He has an obvious obsession with pornography and fetish which creeps into some of his most well known work such as the Christina Aguilera’s Dirrty video and is certainly highly present in the book. That said, if you can get past that and look at his composition and also the sense of irony that many of his shots portray then you realise his obvious talent.

Looking at his web site, I was also very surprised by the amount of recognisable music videos he has directed, including ones for artists such as Norah Jones and Joss Stone which you wouldn’t have thought at first. However, I personally think he doesn’t excel in this medium to the level of Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry and Chris Cunningham to name but three.

Whilst not a style that I could ever imagine trying to imitate, and I imagine you either love it or hate it, the book is certainly very interesting from a photographic point of view and it is easy to see why he is lauded as one of the most important living photographers. Just don’t leave it around on the coffee table when the parents come to visit!

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