Some photographers build a global reputation revealing the intimate truths of portraiture. Others seek to capture the eternal moment amidst the glittering ephemera of fashion. Most attempt to master just one genre. But, over the past 20 years a rare few photographers have excelled in both disciplines. Uli Weber is one of them.
What unites Weber's work in portraiture and fashion is the artistry he brings to each commission he receives. In the opinion of Ivan Shaw, Photography Director of Vogue, this artistry begs comparison with not only such masters of photography as Henri Cartier-Bresson and August Sander but, to Shaw's expert eye, it is also easy to discern elements of Renoir and Degas in the graphic quality that Weber brings to his compositions.
The comparison with Sander may result from their shared German heritage. But it was in Italy that Weber learned his craft and developed his ability to recognise the dramatic intensity or the absurdist fun in even the most unpromising of subjects. Having studied photography in Rome, Weber moved to London in the late '80s. His timing was perfect. If London was poised to swing again then Weber was ready to play his part in its emergence as the pop culture capital of the world.
Typically, his first cover shot was for iconic style magazine, Arena and featured Sting wrapped in a vivid red Katharine Hamnett fake fur coat. Other prestigious commissions quickly followed until it was commonplace to see an Uli Weber shoot in Marie Claire, Elle or Vogue.
While fashion was his forte, portraiture also became an Uli Weber specialism with everyone from Jeremy Irons to Robbie Williams, Keira Knightley to Kylie Minogue appearing in his star-studded portfolio. On occasion, Weber emerged from behind the camera to find himself the focus of attention. There have been numerous awards (including election as one of the prestigious Hasselblad Masters) plus, on one occasion, an interview with the Queen of US Media, Oprah Winfrey.
Media attention intensified in 2010 with the publication of Weber's book Portraits by Skira. Such was the interest and critical acclaim that Uli - whose work has been included in prestigious group shows at The Victoria and Albert and the Saatchi Gallery - was the subject of a series of one man exhibitions in London, Milan, Palermo and New York. Whether it was The Times, Der Spiegel, la Republica or Corriere Della Sera, the reviews were unanimous in their appreciation for work that is at once versatile and at the same time unique.
Collectors have been similarly impressed and know that whether it is the naked Daniel Radcliffe in the photographs for his West End debut in Equus, or his work for such titles as 125 Magazine, Cent and Quintessentially, which blur the line between fashion and photographic art, Weber has proven himself to be one of the most accomplished artists of his generation.