Peter Lindbergh (born 23 November 1944) is a German photographer and film director. Lindbergh is known for his cinematic images.
Lindbergh introduced a form of new realism by redefining the standards of beauty, influenced by documentary photographers, street photographers and photojournalists like Dorothea Lange, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Garry Winogrand. He has a humanist approach. He changed the standards of fashion photography in times of excessive retouching, in considering there to be something else that makes a person interesting, beyond their age. In 2014 he said that “This should be the responsibility of photographers today to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.” In 2016, Lindbergh declared that “A fashion photographer should contribute to defining the image of the contemporary woman or man in their time, to reflect a certain social or human reality. How surrealistic is today’s commercial agenda to retouch all signs of life and of experience, to retouch the very personal truth of the face itself?”
He photographs his subjects in their natural state, with hardly any make-up. The journalist Suzy Menkes wrote that “Refusing to bow to glossy perfection is Peter Lindbergh’s trademark – the essence of the images that look into each person’s unvarnished soul, however familiar or famous the sitter”.
In 1988, Lindbergh gained international acclaim by showing a new generation of models all dressed in white shirts that he had recently discovered and launched their careers. A year later, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford, and Christy Turlington, young models then, were photographed together for the first time by him for the January 1990 British Vogue cover. Credited as the one who officially started the era of supermodels, his cover inspired singer George Michael to cast those models in the video for his song “Freedom ’90”, and around the same time Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace for his Fall–Winter 1991 fashion show featuring the new supermodels featured two years earlier in Lindbergh’s photographs. In a 2008 interview with art historian Charlotte Cotton, he explained that:
Using black-and-white photography was really important to creating the supermodel. Every time I tried to shoot them in colour, because their beauty was close to perfection, it ended up looking like a bad cosmetics advert. With black and white, you can really see who they are. It toned down the commercial interpretation that colour gives. What’s so striking about black and white is how it really helps a sense of reality to come through.
Lindbergh’s first book, 10 Women (1996), sold more than 100,000 copies as of 2008.
He twice photographed the Pirelli calendar, in 1996 and 2002. The latter, which used actresses instead of models for the first time, was shot on the back lot of Paramount Studios, and was described by art critic Germaine Greer as “Pirelli’s most challenging calendar yet.” Lindbergh is the first photographer in the fifty-year history of the Pirelli calendar to be invited to photograph it for a third time (for the 2017 edition).
Lindbergh collaborated on two complete issues of Vogue photographed by him, one celebrating Vogue Germany 30th anniversary in October 2009, and the other for Vogue Spain in December 2010.