Peter Lindbergh—recognized as one of fashion’s most sought after photographers—passed away on Sept. 3 at the age of 74. Lindbergh shot some of the most recognizable photos for publications Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar along with high-end brands Calvin Klein and Lancôme. Acknowledged for his classic black and white style, Lindbergh’s work is often held in high regard for its classic execution and simplicity.
Lindbergh grew up in Duisburg, Germany and attended the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts. After realizing how much he cherished taking photos of his brother’s children, he soon began to take the art of photography seriously. In 1973, he opened his first studio in Düsseldorf before moving to Paris in 1978 to work for Vogue—kickstarting a remarkable journey.
He is often credited for catapulting the original era of supermodels. The January 1990 British Vogue cover featured models Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington—defining the new decade and ushering a movement of worldwide prominence.
Lindbergh’s striking depiction inspired George Michael to cast the five women in the “Freedom! ‘90” music video, which instantly became a phenomenon. The colossal response from Lindbergh’s cover and Michael’s video soon carried over to the runway. Campbell, Evangelista, Crawford and Turlington—now recognized on a first name basis—took the fashion world by storm by strutting in different colored dresses and lip-synching to Michael’s soulful voice at Gianni Versace’s Fall-Winter 1991-1992 show. To this day, that moment is still talked about and it’s all due to Lindbergh’s influence.
In addition to shooting fashion’s biggest stars, Lindbergh also captured a multitude of famous women in Hollywood over the years, including Lupita Nyong’o and Emma Watson. On top of magazines and brand deals, he also shot the album covers for Tina Turner’s “Foreign Affair” and Beyoncé’s “I Am…Sasha Fierce.” His most recent work was in collaboration with guest-editor Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, for the September 2019 British Vogue issue—featuring photos of climate activist Greta Thunberg and author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
What made Lindbergh’s work stand out was his way of capturing the true essence of the women through minimal makeup and diminishing the thought of retouching. His effortless style was a dramatic change from the electricity of the 1980s—highlighting their natural beauty first and foremost.
Plenty of tributes on social media have rolled in from those who worked closely with Lindbergh. Crawford—previously mentioned—perfectly described what he embodied to those who were in front of the camera and those who were admirers of his work.
“When @therealpeterlindbergh shoots, it’s about the women,” wrote Crawford on Instagram. “It’s not about the hair, makeup, or styling, really. He had a way of turning your imperfections into something unique and beautiful…and his images will always be timeless.”
Rylee Jackson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @rybyjackson.