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Fashion Photographer Peter Beard Has Died At 82
The pursuit of the perfect shot could be dangerous—he nearly died after being charged by an elephant in 1996 and often swam in crocodile-infested rivers—but Beard remained an adventurer to the end. And though he rejected the conservationist label, he was somewhat of a Cassandra of climate change before the cause was taken up by the rest of the industry, telling Vanity Fair in 1996, “the speed with which we destroy nature is overwhelming, and we adapt to the damage we cause with unbelievable cunning.”
The nightlife chronicler Bob Colacello once summed Beard up as “half Tarzan, half Byron,” neatly summing up the fact that he seemed as comfortable on the savannah as at Studio 54. With a Zelig-like ability to situate himself where the action was, he photographed the Rolling Stones on tour, hung out with Andy Warhol, and dated Lee Radziwill. He appreciated the beauty of the natural landscape as much as that of the supermodels he shot: Veruschka, Janice Dickinson, and Lara Stone among them. He worked prolifically for ELLE’s French edition: for a 1996 shoot, he juxtaposed his favorite landscape with fashion, showing an Alaïa-clad model in Kenya alongside giraffes.
A statement released by his family describes him as “an intrepid explorer, unfailingly generous, charismatic, and discerning. Peter defined what it means to be open: open to new ideas, new encounters, new people, new ways of living and being. Always insatiably curious, he pursued his passions without restraints and perceived reality through a unique lens.”