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Luis Sanchis: Icon of 90s Fashion Photography
Luis Sanchis: Icon of 90s Fashion Photography

Luis Sanchis: Icon of 90s Fashion Photography

Words by Georgia Gordon

Luis Sanchis is a Spanish photographer, born and raised in Guatemala, who currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Largely self-taught, Sanchis’ photography is bold, moody, and perfectly shows off his in-depth understanding of lighting and colour techniques. Once swearing by analogue, Sanchis switched to digital in 2010 and continues to shoot to this day. Rocketing to fame in the 90’s with his fashion photography, Sanchis famously shot Gucci's iconic Spring 1998 campaign.

 At the age of 17, Luis Sanchis met a friend named Gustavo, who Sanchis still considers a mentor of his to this day. Gustavo introduced Sanchis to the world of cinema and photography, sharing with him the work of icons like Helmut Newton, Robert Frank and Fellini. At the time in Spain, it was hard to find these artists’ work as Spain was coming off the back of the Francoist dictatorship. After becoming inspired by the artists shown to him by Gustavo, Sanchis bought a Rollei 35S and carried it with him everywhere he went, before later moving on to Super 8 movies. 

In his youth Sanchis studied acting and fine art and worked a plethora of different jobs before making the move to NYC to pursue photography. Among his many professions were a DJ, a visual merchandiser for window displays, a bartender and even a photography assistant where he gained experience before his move to New York. 

Courtney Love photographed by Luis Sanchis for The Face No 22, 1998

Sanchis moved to NYC in 1994 to pursue his photography dreams, doing side jobs whilst working as a test shooter for modelling agencies. In an interview with Oui Hours, Sanchis shares that he even worked as a garbage man in China Town. In the meantime, Sanchis built his portfolio and eventually scored himself an agent. After working some commercial jobs to help pay of his debts, Sanchis then flew to London and found himself becoming a regular contributor for The Face magazine. 

 When asked about the difference between Spain and New York, Sanchis shares that Spain was very conservative in the 90’s so he preferred working in New York where he had more freedom. Sanchis has always been a fan of pushing his boundaries and experimenting with his work. After all, it was through trial and error that he gained the most experience in photography. When asked for a little insight into the secret of his lighting techniques, that usually result in very little need for any post-production editing, Sanchis simply replies, “it’s like cooking. If you have all the ingredients, you just need to experiment.” It comes as no surprise that many photographers want to know the secret to Sanchis’ bold and haunting lighting techniques. 

Gucci SS 1998 campaign photographed by Luis Sanchis

In 1997, Sanchis’ friend Lee Swillingham who was also working for The Face at the time, asked him to shoot the latest Gucci campaign. The shoot, which featured models Ehrin Cumming and Ryan Locke, is said to have represented a huge turning point for the brand and gave Sanchis much deserved recognition that led to a series of opportunities. Since, Sanchis has worked for a number of publications and designers from Alexander McQueen, Armani and Nike to Dazed and Confused, GQ, Elle and Vogue to name a few. Some of his most famous work still remains the images he shot for The Face. For their 1999 issue, Sanchis photographed iconic 90’s supermodel Kate Moss who went makeup free for the shoot that consisted mostly of close-up headshots of Moss, doused in a cinematic pink lighting. A young Leonardo Di Caprio also worked with Sanchis for The Face on a series of grainy, moody film shots of Di Caprio topless on the beach. Other photos from the same shoot see DiCaprio with a bottle of spray to hand, photographed by Sanchis from behind the glass window that DiCaprio appears to be cleaning, a cigarette hanging loosely from his lips. Sanchis has also worked with a range of musicians including Daft Punk, Madonna, the Rolling Stones and Robbie Williams. In 2002, Sanchis shot Williams for the cover of his album Escapology. The famous shoot took place in Los Angeles at the city’s tallest building, outside which Williams hung upside down from a crane whilst Sanchis captured the image from the 54th floor.  

Kate Moss photographed by Luis Sanchis for The Face 1999       

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