Photographer who captured J-Lo, Beyonce and Princess Diana passes away aged 78

Patrick Demarcellier
Patrick Demarchelier, photographed in New York in 2016 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Renowned fashion and royal photographer, Patrick Demarchelier, sadly passed away on 31 March aged 78, survived by his wife, three sons and three grandchildren. 

The legendary photographer worked with the likes of Madonna, Kate Moss, J-Lo, Beyonce and most famously, Princess Diana, who launched his career. 

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Demarchelier was known not only for his high fashion images of celebrities and top models, but he was the first non-British photographer invited to take an official portrait of a British royal. 

He was Princess Diana's favorite photographer, working with her for five years and eventually becoming her personal portraitist. Their collaboration happened after Diana saw a Vogue cover image that Demarchelier had captured of a model and her young child, inviting him to shoot a portrait of her. 

Patrick Demarchelier's portrait of Princess Diana goes on view as part of Sotheby's Made In Britain auction in 2019  (Image credit: Getty Images)

The turbo-effect of this collaboration turned Demarchelier into the most sought-after photographer in the world, working with some of Hollywood's biggest stars across his four-decade career. He was later invited to photograph princes William and Harry for Diana’s personal collection, as well as receiving commissions from other royals including portraits of Queen Sofia of Spain, and the Duchess of Kent.

His love of photography began at the age of 17 when his stepfather bought him a camera, and he taught himself how to use it. Of all the famous celebrities and models Demarchelier worked with, he once said that none compared to his dog, a long-haired dachshund named Puffy, who he described as "the perfect model".

Demarchelier worked for almost every major fashion magazine and brands over the years, and was so famous that he had a name-check in the 2006 movie, The Devil Wears Prada, as well as a cameo in the 2008 Sex And The City movie.

Although glamorous, his career was not without controversy, as in recent years he had been accused of sexual misconduct allegations following the #MeToo movement in 2018. Demarchelier was among 25 photographers, stylists, casting directors, agents and industry professionals accused in an extensive report by The Globe of sexual misconduct. 

Demarchelier had refuted all allegations, insisting claims made against him were "ridiculous" and "pure lying". As a happily married father of three sons, he said he had "never, never, never" touched a model inappropriately or proposed sexual favors. Despite his protests, clients including Conde Nast (the owner of Vogue, Glamour and GQ) suspended work with him, and other brands followed.

Former editor of Vogue, Alexandra Shulman stated: "It is a tragedy that for the last years of his life a man who lived for his work was an outcast. Luckily for us, his brilliant images will live on". 

None of the allegations against Demarchelier have yet been proven, though the report suggest many accusers remain anonymous to protect their careers and public image, and avoid victim-blaming. 

Despite unproven allegations made four years ago, many of his clients have paid tribute to his passing on social media, among those being US designer Vera Wang, who said she was "saddened to the core" by his passing, as well as models Bella Hadid, Cindy Crawford, Hailey Bieber, Christie Brinkley, hair stylist Sam McKnight and actress Kate Hudson.

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.