Ansel Elgort's Iconic Photographer Dad, Arthur, Talks Family

Bobbi Brown
·Editor in Chief

Photographer Arthur Elgort and his son, actor Ansel Elgort. Photo: Getty Images

Some of my happiest moments as a freelance makeup artist have been working on shoots with legendary photographer Arthur Elgort. Now 75, Arthur has shot every major model from Kate to Naomi, for every major magazine including Vogue and Vanity Fair. His work is stunning, incredibly glamorous, artistic, and so original. There is just no one else like him. However, Arthur has said that his favorite subjects to shoot aren’t gorgeous supermodels, but his three children, now in their twenties. He and his wife Grethe have done a beautiful job of encouraging each of their children to follow their passions. Sophie is a fashion photographer, Warren is a filmmaker, and Ansel is an actor whose career is blowing up with roles in films like The Fault in Our Stars and Insurgent. Here, Arthur talks about why he doesn’t believe in Father’s Day, the cool things his children are doing, and why he always knew Ansel was going to be famous. Look out next week for part two of my talk with Arthur where we look back on his celebrated career.

Arthur Elgort with his three children, Ansel, Sophie, and Warren. Photo: Instagram

Bobbi Brown: What are you doing for Fathers Day?
Arthur Elgort:
I have no idea! We don’t believe in Father’s Day around here, we believe in Mother’s Day. We think Father’s Day is an excuse to buy a tie or maybe socks or something. We think it is a phony holiday. Now Mother’s Day here is big. Grethe expects everybody to come, no matter what they are doing. They don’t give her big gifts, they give her drawings and things like that.

That’s all we care about as moms. With my kids I usually make them sit down and go through our photo albums from when they were little. That’s what I want.

Yes. For Father’s Day usually they will take me for coffee and that’s it. Then I buy my own stuff, if I want socks I buy my own socks. If I want a nice jacket, I use this John Tan who chooses suits for Ansel. Of course, Ansel now gets his clothes for free, Tom Ford and Prada too, those are his two designers. Like when he went to the Met Ball, then he uses it once and puts it in the closet.

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Ansel and Warren Elgort, Arthur’s two sons. (Photo: Instagram)

Ansel is the it-actor right now, did you ever think he’d be so famous?

I always knew it. Since he was eight years old I would say, “Oh God this kids going to be famous I know it.” When he used to work with Grace Coddington and me, I knew it then. He was the only person who would say, “I’m sorry I’m not wearing those clothes No good.” And Grace would say “What’s the matter with that clothes?” He would answer, “I’m not wearing that shirt it’s bad. You’re good with women’s fashion, Grace but you don’t know anything about men so I’ll do what I think is right it will come out better.” And Grace would say “Well ok we’ll go along with you!” Then remember Ansel was in the School of American Ballet in The Nutcracker at nine. He was in the first scene, in a party scene. We went every night to see him. And I would ask, “How do you feel?” and he said, “I saw everybody was looking at me.” Of course everybody was looking at the stage! Not to him but he thought they were looking at him.

So he was ready for fame.

Yes. Then he went to LaGuardia High School that’s that’s the Fame school, and he was the star in every play. So you saw it right away. While Warren played tennis all the time and he’s still playing tennis, just for fun but he still plays all the time and he’s a filmmaker. He’s 25 he’s good. He does videos, he does a lot of work with Town & Country, when they have a star, they take Warren and he does a video. Then Sophie, the oldest child, she’s a photographer and doing very well.

Warren Elgort at work as a filmmaker. (Photo: Instagram)

I would love to work with both Warren and Sophie. That’s so special that Sophie has followed in your footsteps.

Sophie’s very good. She’d come in my studio all the time from when she was five months old, so it must have rubbed off on her. She was going to be a doctor, but that’s a lot of time in school. She decided to be a photographer, and she loves it.

That’s so really cool.

We got married at the same house that we have now. Grethe and I each had 20 people at the wedding and I thought that was a lot. Then Sophie had 200 people there, they wanted more but we couldn’t fit them in anymore. We had tent and catering. It was nice. I had to get dressed up and I had to get a new suit.

And you had your camera around your neck,

Of course! I haven’t changed that much yet.

Arthur’s daughter Sophie is a fashion photographer. She took this image of her brothers and dad. Photo: Instagram

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