Sante D’Orazio (born January 23, 1956 in Brooklyn, New York) is one of the most important contemporary fashion and beauty photographers. He is known for his (nude) portraits of famous personalities, from Christy Turlington and Kate Moss to Mike Tyson and Johnny Depp.
The son of Italian immigrants − his father was a hairdresser and his mother an opera singer – D’Orazio initially studied painting and art at Brooklyn College in New York and was an assistant to the artist Philip Pearlstein from 1979 to 1980. Later, the photo artist Lou Bernstein, a member of the New York Photo League, became his mentor.
In 1981, he received his first assignment for the Italian fashion magazine Vogue and was eventually discovered by Andy Warhol’s magazine Interview. In the mid-1980s, he became known through exhibitions all over the world. Famous for its provocative and intimate style, Sante D’Orazio’s work regularly appeared in leading European and American fashion magazines. “What the works have in common is a reverence for a beautiful, (almost) flawless body and an equally beautiful face.” (book jacket description)
He was awarded the Grand Prix of the International Festival of Fashion Photography in 1994. Since the mid-1990s, D’Orazio has also been active in the film business. In 1992, he showed his self-directed short film Sammy, a portrait of a New York homeless man, at the Venice Film Festival. As a director, he made several music and advertising videos and wrote the script for a feature film.
In the early 2000s, he turned away from commercially commissioned work and switched to a more personal art practice. In 2007, for example, he created the Priests, a series of large-format, black-and-white portraits of contemporary artists such as Nobyuoshi Araki, Matthew Barney and Jeff Koons, dressed in Catholic vestments and depicting symbols of faith. More recently, Sante D’Orazio has combined photography with geometric painting and written his memoirs.
2015 saw the publication of his photo book Polaroids which featured photographs that were usually taken as warm-up exercises before serious shooting began. “They are unparalleled in this playful quality and heighten the erotic-voyeuristic moment further with their intimacy.” (Book jacket description) The book brings together pop culture icons such as Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Cindy Crawford, Jon Bon Jovi, Keith Richards, and many more.
Sante D’Orazio, Polaroids, Schirmer/Model 2015