One Life Spotlight: Picture Perfect

The Fall 2017 issue of One Life Magazine, our lifestyle magazine featuring high-end editorials brings to life a distinguished world of art, architecture, design and luxury real estate – including the work of famed fashion photographer Greg Lotus. Lotus’ love of the mixture of shadow and light is reflected in his work as well as in his Miami Beach home. Read the full editorial below, and check out the entire issue online.

Picture Perfect by Tom Austin

The fashion history of Miami Beach was built on light, and on a splendid sun-drenched afternoon, a local institution—the home of photographer Greg Lotus—is redolent with evocative settings. Just past the front gate, Lotus points out a giant agave plant, the backdrop for a Glamour magazine spread. Standing beside his backyard pool, Lotus takes in a waterfall cascading down a keystone wall. He shot Eva Longoria here, draped over the edge of the pool. Many stars have passed this way, including Channing Tatum in his emergent period. “Channing was just a model then, a nobody,” Lotus recalls, “but about to be a very big somebody.”

In the front yard, hedges cover the walls and surround the window frames, as if the windows are being focused through a camera lens. Lotus’ home—a camera-ready palette of green ficus, white walls and burgundy bougainvillea—is the result of a stroke of luck. “Seventeen years ago, I was riding my bike past this house just as the owner was walking out of her front door with a ‘for sale’ sign,” he says.

Lotus was raised in the small town of Elkins, West Virginia, a long way from the heady atmosphere of fashion. “Elkins is all farmers and coal miners,” he says. “I didn’t want to stay there.” After a brief interlude at West Virginia University in Morgantown, he worked as a waiter in Washington, D.C., before moving to New York. “I started out in photography doing test shots for my friends who were models, things for their portfolios. Then in the early 1990s, I moved down here and began shooting professionally.”

On a trip to Paris, happenstance went his way once again. “I ran into Kate Moss’ agent, and she introduced me to the late Franca Sozzani, who was editor of Italian Vogue at the time,” he says. “After that, my career took off internationally.”

The early 1990s were the heyday of Miami’s fashion industry, and Lotus—who also maintains a home in New York City—has remained an integral figure in the Miami scene, shooting Russian Vogue spreads on Key Biscayne and Vogue swimsuit layouts on South Beach. He has photographed more than 80 international Vogue covers, as well as covers for Vanity Fair, GQ and more. Lotus has also shot campaigns for brands such as Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels and has lately moved into directing, shooting commercials and doing print work for clients such as Estée Lauder.

Lotus travels constantly for work. In his living room, he surveys some of the treasures gleaned from the glossy whirl. “I found that bentwood chair at a flea market—the furniture maker now has pieces at the Museum of Modern Art,” he says. “I think the wannabe Modigliani painting on that wall came from a thrift store. The artist Kevin Cherry made the sofa and chair for me. I found the Italian marble table at an antique store in Los Angeles—the Oscars would rent it every year to hold statuettes backstage.”

Light and the interplay of shadow is an aesthetic preoccupation for Lotus, and his new book, Shadow & Light—out this winter from Gatehouse Publishing— explores his fascination with the nuances of shadows. In the living room, Lotus displays one of his Russian Vogue photographs in which a model strides across a beamed parking garage with no roof, light dappling on the floor.

Then, Lotus takes out his iPhone and looks at one of his photographs from Italian Vogue. In the image, the model’s face is accented by delicate shadow lines cast by a tennis net. “I found this model in a Subway making sandwiches,” he says, “and three weeks later, she was modeling for Italian Vogue. Isn’t she beautiful? I love the shadows on her face.”

The bedroom contains his famous photograph Wagon Wheel. In the image, the shadow cast by a wagon wheel plays over a nude model. The photograph was originally done for 10 Magazine and is now one of the pieces Lotus sells on his website. In Cleveland, The Marble Room—a restaurant set in an old bank building—displays a huge print of Wagon Wheel on one wall, along with other work by Lotus.

Lotus’ home tour next leads to the guest room, which is adorned with two classic Bert Stern photographs from Marilyn Monroe’s “The Last Sitting” in 1962. In one image, a fragile-looking Monroe models a black Dior dress. In another shot, she’s virtually topless, barely covered in a gauzy scarf.

Beyond anything else, fashion is simply fun, and even after a long list of celebrity subjects—Penelope Cruz, Katy Perry, Liam Hemsworth, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Kardashian, Elizabeth Hurley, Chloe Sevigny—Lotus still enjoys the sheer pop pleasure of fashion. Settling by the pool with his iPhone, he flips through images and reminisces about his career. “Here’s an Essence cover with Lupita Nyong’o right after she got the Academy Award for ‘12 Years a Slave,’” he says. “I love this bright red lipstick on Monica Bellucci—that was for Citizen K—and this GQ cover with Jessica Alba looks great, with her blue bathing suit against that yellow surfboard.”

Along the way, photography has led Lotus some interesting characters. In Montauk, New York, Paul Morrissey—who directed films for Andy Warhol—brought Lotus on a private tour of Warhol’s house. In Memphis, Tennessee, Lisa Marie Presley hired Lotus to shoot photos for her album “Storm & Grace,” closing down Graceland for a week.

Lotus goes into his house and brings back one of his treasures, a copy of the magazine Egoiste. On the cover is a Richard Avedon photograph of Isabelle Adjani.

“In Paris, I was photographing Isabelle for Citizen K, and on the way to the shoot, I ran across this copy of Egoiste in my favorite bookstore, this little place in the Marais,” Lotus says. “Avedon was really a wonderful photographer, and after my shoot with Isabelle, I had her sign the Egoiste cover. She wrote, ‘For Greg… Such a nice feeling… Peace and photography.’ That really meant something. Peace and photography is what it’s all about.”


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