Photographer and Filmmaker Warren Elgort Steps Out on His Own

Cait Munro

Warren Elgort
Self portrait by Warren Elgort; produced by Michael Reynolds.

Warren Elgort believes the best pictures are those of people the photographer cares about. “If you really like the person that you’re shooting—if you think that they’re incredible—then it will be a great shot,” he says.

It’s easy to see why Elgort might feel that way. The 28-year-old photographer and filmmaker (and aspiring actor) comes from a family of highly successful creatives. His father is famed fashion photographer Arthur Elgort, who, despite having worked with the likes of Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista, has said that his children are his favorite people to take pictures of.

His brother is Ansel Elgort, an actor whose recent film Baby Driver was nominated for three Academy Awards. His mother Grethe Holby directs and produces operas, while his sister Sophie is also a photographer with whom he has frequently collaborated. “He’ll capture things I might not have even thought of,” says Sophie. “When we’re in the middle of a set and trying to create something, we just sort of trust each other.”

While Elgort clearly takes after his 78-year-old father (“I think my stuff looks a little bit like my dad’s stuff,” he concedes), he has a distinctly millennial approach to his career, in that he refuses to tether himself to a single mode of expression. When he’s not shooting short films for brands like Oscar de la Renta and Alice + Olivia, he takes evocative portraits of up- and-coming models as well as family and friends, which he shares with his more than 120,000 Instagram followers. He also creates and produces documentaries through his own company. And he insists that, despite his artistic pedigree, he really never thought he’d go into the family trade.

“I was a tennis player and I went to Johns Hopkins and played tennis there. I thought that maybe I would go into sports management or something,” says Elgort. “It’s tough because I have so many interests. But I figure if I’m in film and photography, I can spend a day on something about basketball or some story that has a wider range.”

Elgort is eager to make a name for himself on his own terms, but his deep love for his family is apparent in a number of his projects. He is currently sifting through footage from Arthur’s shoots from the ‘80s and ‘90s for a documentary that was sparked by his father’s inclusion in this month’s “Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911–2011,” at the Getty Museum. The film was initially intended as accompaniment for the exhibition, but now he says it has taken on a life of its own.

What, exactly, that something else might look like remains to be seen, but given the Elgort family track record, it will be worth watching.