Archive – May 7, 2020
Jim Lee has worked in the fashion industry for over 50 years now. He was originally nicknamed “the original wild child of fashion photography”. In this interview given to London Live, he recalls his experiences as a career artist, giving an insight on his cinematic narratives, asymmetrical compositions, and bold colors helped usher in an era of expressive liberty for fashion photography.
Born in 1945, Lee’s parents worked for the British military intelligence service (MI5) and unbeknownst to him; he was a descendant of the Royal Family. In an environment of secrecy and privilege, Jim Lee would seek a life of revelry and adventure. Lee moved to Australia, enchanted by the rugged Outback lifestyle, and while there became a self-taught photographer, developing negatives for a local photographer in exchange for housing. Lee would make a name for himself photographing rock stars like The Beatles and the Rolling Stones and eventually move back to England and begin an incursion into fashion photography. Working with the young and rising editor Anna Wintour, Lee gained recognition as a photographer in the era of the late 1960’s “Swinging Sixties” of London. Lee would go on to shoot a feature-length film with Alan Bates, collaborate with influential designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Gianni Versace, and direct over 200 significant commercials. He his now represented by the Holden Luntz Gallery.
“I embraced the camera frame almost as if it were a blank canvas, knowing that in this space, I could create and find a visual equivalent for anything that came to mind. It didn’t matter that; as a photographer, I was not able to shoot moving images. I would construct my still images dynamically.”