Stéphane Sednaoui

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Stéphane Sednaoui
Born (1963-02-27) February 27, 1963 (age 52)
Paris, France
Occupation Director, photographer, producer
Years active 1981–present

Stéphane Sednaoui is a French photographer, director and producer.

Investigating for the past 30 years film and photographic territories, Sednaoui's work spans the genres of music video, photojournalism, portrait photography and fashion photography and is now directed towards art and cinematographic projects.

Known for his work as a music video director, he is the author of the critically acclaimed "Give It Away" (Red Hot Chili Peppers), "Sly" (Massive Attack), "Mysterious Ways" (U2), "Big Time Sensuality" (Björk), "Fever" (Madonna), regarded as some of the most memorable of the medium. In 2005, Palm Pictures published a retrospective of his work, The Work of Director Stéphane Sednaoui.

An equally established photographer, Sednaoui has covered as a photojournalist such monumental events as the Romanian Revolution of 1989 and the 2001 September 11 attack of the World Trade Center. He has also been a regular contributor to Vogue Italia, Vogue China, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, Interview and Visionaire as a fashion and portrait photographer.

Since 2008 Sednaoui has focused on his artistic projects. He has been exhibiting his art work in New York, Paris, Beijing and Shanghai and (as of 2014) he is in the development stage of his first feature film.

Early career[edit]

Although Sednaoui never received formal training as a photographer-director and never was a photographer's assistant, it was with the aid of two of his major artistic influences William Klein and Jean-Paul Gaultier that he shaped his artistic approach between the ages of 18 and 22: At 18 he started as a casting director for advertising campaigns before passing in front of the camera to become the face of Jean-Paul Gaultier's brand for two years (1982–1984). He then modeled for photographers Steven Meisel and Peter Lindbergh, and for artist Andy Warhol.[1] At 21 he was the casting director of the docufiction movie Mode in France (1985) directed by his mentor photographer-director William Klein and at 22 he was a dancer in the French choreographer Régine Chopinot's creation: Le Défilé (1985).

All those experiences were documented by Sednaoui and some have been shown recently: his pictures of Chopinot's choreography were exhibited in 2007 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs of the Louvre and his experience with William Klein was published in 2009 as a portfolio in the French contemporary art magazine "Paradis".


(A presentation of Sednaoui's work in different mediums in chronological order)

Photographic essays[edit]

Sednaoui's first interest for photography was found in the form of Photographic essays made by his mentors, William Klein, Robert Frank and Bill Brandt. It is as a photo essayist that Sednaoui early work was published in art and photo magazines[2] and although his career took off in other fields, it is his continuous dedication to photo-essay that represent the main volume of his archive.[1]

Portraiture photography[edit]

Sednaoui's first editorial assignment was in 1985 at age 21 when he was offered to do portraits for UK Tatler magazine and then for French newspaper Libération. He has since collaborated with many magazines, among them: Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, Interview and the French newspaper Le Monde. He is noted for his choice of forceful characters such as Charlotte Gainsbourg, Courtney Love, Hilary Swank, Salma Hayek, Björk, Sofia Coppola, Robert Mitchum and Javier Bardem.

Fashion photography[edit]

At age 22, Franca Sozzani gave Sednaoui his first fashion assignment (1986) for the Italian magazine Per Lui. Sednaoui's initial approach of fashion was energetic and sometimes cartoonish. A more narrative cinematic fashion approach will emerge in 2000; naturally influenced by his years as a music video director. It is again Franca Sozzani who invited Sednaoui to contribute this time to Vogue Italia. Sednaoui has been also a regular contributor of French Numéro, Vogue China, and Visionaire.

Pop culture photography[edit]

More than his start in the fashion world it was his 1988 contribution debut to the iconic pop culture magazine The Face and Annie Flanders' Details publication (initially an underground magazine) that sets the ground for Sednaoui's world. There he experimented by transcending genres, mixing pop culture with fashion references. In the hand-made decoupage story Fashion Heroes,[3] Sednaoui photographed designers Jean-Paul Gaultier, Azzedine Alaia and Vivienne Westwood, alongside the iconic models of that era, creating an epic super heroes adventure which was awarded by both jury William Klein and Jean-Paul Goude at the 1990 International Photography Festival.[4] During the same period Sednaoui started creating visuals and albums covers for artists such as Björk,[5] Mick Jagger and Madonna. His style would lead him to direct music videos a few years later. (See chapter below, Music videos)


Sednaoui has covered has a photographer some historical dramatic events. He photographed the Romanian Revolution of 1989 (published in French newspaper Libération and UK Arena magazine). Ten years later he photographed and filmed the fall of the twin towers on the September 11 attacks and then volunteered to search for survivors at Ground Zero's World Trade Center site. A special portfolio of this unique document on the rescue at ground zero was published in Talk magazine as well as on the cover of the special issue of French newspaper Libération. In September 2011 Time magazine published a complete portfolio of the search and rescue Ground Zero on its website Time LightBox.

Music videos[edit]

After his first director break through in France for the French rap band NTM (1990) he moved to the USA where his next project for the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Give It Away" (1991) video brought him an award at the 1992 MTV Video Music Award. His subsequent work has come to be regarded asmongst the most memorable of the medium during the 90's.

Other Sednaoui music videos that were nominated or received MTV Video Music Awards are, "Mysterious Ways" (U2), "Today" (The Smashing Pumpkins), "Big Time Sensuality" (Björk), "7 Seconds" (Youssou N'Dour and Neneh Cherry), "Queer" (Garbage), "Hell Is Round the Corner" (Tricky), "Ironic" (Alanis Morissette), "Possibly Maybe" (Björk), "GBI: German Bold Italic" (Towa Tei featuring Kylie Minogue) and "Le Nouveau Western" (MC Solaar).

His work is celebrated in The Work of Director Stephane Sednaoui (2005) from the Directors Label series, a collection of DVDs devoted to the most creative music video directors, along with Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Anton Corbijn, Jonathan Glazer, Chris Cunningham and Mark Romanek.

By 2000 Sednaoui paused his directing of music videos


Since 2001 has showed his art films & projects in solo or group exhibitions in New York, Paris, Beijing's Today Art Museum and Shanghai's MOCA.

Personal life[edit]

His mother was the photographic agent Yannick Morisot, while his aunt is the French-American painter Evelyne Morisot and his uncle the Jazzman David Earle Johnson.

Sednaoui's grandfather came from Egypt to France, he was from an Orthodox Christian family that finds its roots in the city of Sednaya, Syria and who migrated to Egypt at the end of the 15th century. The now decayed Sednaoui department store of Cairo was once the Middle Eastern counterpart of the famous department stores known in London, Paris and New York.[6]

In October 2001, Laetitia Casta gave birth to his daughter Sahteene. The actress and model Elisa Sednaoui is a cousin.

Sednaoui lives in Paris and New York.


Short films[edit]

  • "Acqua Natasa" (director, producer) (2002)
  • "Walk On the Wild Side" (director, producer) (2005) A 10 minute film based on Lou Reed's song "Walk on the Wild Side" which featured several well-known New York nightlife figures such as Charles Winters and a variety of drag queens.
  • "Army of Me" (director, producer) (2005) An animation based on Björk's song "Army of Me".

Music videos[edit]

  • "Le monde de demain" by Suprême NTM
  • "Anti-matter" by Tricky



  1. ^ a b bio in www.stephane site
  2. ^ "Expériences" portfolio in Photo magazine, May 1991
  3. ^ The Face magazine, January 1990
  4. ^ The original International Festival of Fashion Photography that occurred from 1989 to 1994
  5. ^ Post, 1995
  6. ^

External links[edit]