Photographer DAVE BENETT reveals the stories of iconic images of the rich and famous
Dave Benett has been photographing the rich and famous for over 40 years.
From royalty to movie star, Mr. Showbiz has seen it all when it comes to the lives of celebrities and infamous alike.
Today, his work is at the center of a new exhibition celebrating the social photographer’s historic portfolio.
The JD Malat Gallery will host the exaltation of Benett’s magnificent 40-year career.
My most famous photo? This dress! Liz Hurley, 1994.
This is probably my most famous photo.
It was at a party for Four Weddings And A Funeral and literally 20 of us had photographed Liz for three hours, but there was just something missing – and that was movement.
Then suddenly, here she was going up the stairs, and holding out the dress. . .Bang Bang. And she knew it. The movement of the dress is perfect. It was fate.
No one knew Liz at this point and [then boyfriend] Hugh Grant was just an up-and-coming actor himself. The funny thing is, it’s probably the biggest picture of his life, but if you look, Hugh doesn’t even know it’s happening!
Princess Di knew I was her brotherend. Princess Diana and Liza Minnelli, 1991
Diana was always happiest when involved in dancing. It was the after party for the premiere of Stepping Out in September, a year before she split from Prince Charles. The producers said, “You have eight seconds to take a picture.”
So I walked over and as I did, Liza said something that made Diana burst out laughing.
They laugh. It’s a really natural laugh and Liza looks like she’s chatting – it just made it work.
I photographed Diana many times and we built this relationship where she knew if I was at a party I was in no way going to try to embarrass her.
Kate the gunslinger. Kate Moss, 2002
The thing with Kate is that if she was in a shop or pub you wouldn’t notice her. But the minute the camera sees her, she lights up. There is never a bad image of Kate Moss.
I had spent the whole evening with Kate at the party for the Mario Testino exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, but I just didn’t feel like I had gotten a very good picture.
It was when she was leaving. She had grabbed her coat and I just saw this shot.
It reminded me of James Dean in Giant, when he has his gun slung over his shoulder. The way she has that cigarette lighter is like the butt of a gun. It’s so rock’n’roll.
Charles is out of fashion. Prince Charles with Donatella Versace, 1999
This photo, taken in June, is an example of when it’s better to step back than get too close.
A lot of niggas would’ve cropped the Prince with the Prince [the musician]. But step back and you see a different picture.
Because there’s Lenny Kravitz whispering in Donatella Versace’s ear and you realize Charles is the odd one out and feels a little uncomfortable. It’s a really interesting dynamic.
Hot smoking. Carla Bruni, 1992
I think this one is great – picked up when you could still drink and smoke at a public event. And Carla was just one of the most beautiful women in the world at the time.
Almost every model now wants to look like her. She didn’t even have to try modeling.
About three years ago, I photographed her in Qatar with [former French president] Sarkozy, which was strange.
She’s the same woman I remembered rock ‘n’ roll stars hugging.
Arnie spins Stallone. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, 2014
This was taken in Cannes at the launch of one of The Expendables movies and brought them together. They had been training for years and literally couldn’t be in the same room.
It all goes back to a crazy night at Planet Hollywood in London about 20 years ago. Arnie was making a speech, obviously in his Germanic accent, talking about his mother’s strudel, when Stallone jumped into the crowd and everyone went nuts.
And that was the beginning of the problem: he took the glory away from Arnie. You can see Schwarzenegger being ironic while Stallone, well, he’s not really sure what’s going on!
Take the Mick. Mick Jagger, 1986
This is the first picture I took of Mick Jagger alone – at the back door of the 100 Club. The Stones made a night for [keyboard player] Ian Stewart, known as the Sixth Stone, to raise money for his widow.
What I remember most is Mick’s leather jacket. I had never seen a coat like that. He likes to be photographed on stage but not off – it’s always a tricky shot. I have sympathy for that because he’s probably one of the most famous men on the planet.
Miss Prim lets her hair down. Claudia Schiffer dancing in Versace, 1999
It’s a Versace fashion show, the biggest fashion event in Paris. And what I love about this picture is that Claudia is so vamp.
Her makeup is a little runny — not the Claudia Schiffer we always see, that prim model who’s always super, super cool. Does it bother her to be photographed like that?
To be part of this world, to be part of this party, that’s what I do. It’s my job.
So they’re practically like friends – it’s like a friend taking a picture of you having a good time.
Jack the boy for fun. Jack Nicholson with Danny DeVito, 1993
That’s when they were in London and had just shot the movie Hoffa. When Jack came to town, everyone came out to play – it was a party. They were going out, going to shows, all that kind of stuff. He never cared.
That’s the thing with Jack. He said to me, ‘You know what. When I’m in London I look both ways when I go out because you’re always somewhere.
New bride Sadie is in awe of Jude. Jude Law and Sadie Frost, 1997
The couple were newlyweds when I took this photo at the Odeon Leicester Square for the Wilde film premiere.
What I love about this photo is that Sadie is totally in love with Jude. You can just see the adulation on his face.
And he just has a bit of a sly face. They were young and it was at the start of his career. A preview of what to expect, huh?