Dan Lecca

Runway photographer Dan Lecca is the undisputed king of the runway. He reigns supreme towering above the other photographers, a modern day Moses on the Mount, graybeard, stern and imposing. At just about every fashion show, when he walks up to the podium, the others part for him as the Red Sea did for Moses. "Dan Lecca is a gorilla in a group of monkeys" (Jason Riffe).

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He was a Rock and Roll star in Romania. His group was called Choral and was #1 in Romania in 1968. Dan left Romania in 1970. He went to Rome where his wife's parents were and worked for 9 months until they got enough money to go to the States. He came here not speaking a word of English. Lecca took a job as a short order cook and eventually landed in a textile studio as a 'man Friday', answering telephones and running errands.

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In 1976, he went to Puerto Rico for work and bought a Cannon FTB with a normal lens for $170. He loved 3 of the slides so much that he became immediately hooked. The camera became his tool to do something artistic. At first, he had no idea what he was doing. He bought a long lens and a wide lens. The camera went everywhere with him: to work, to lunch, on the streets. He had become a shutterbug. Some English clients told him he should go to the Paris Vision fabric show. He had some time to kill, so he went to a couple of shows and snapped pictures. It wasn't difficult to get into fashion shows then like it is today. Lecca met John Duka (one of the founders of KCD) at one of these shows. At the time, he was working for New York Magazine and bought some of his pictures. He also met a Texan, Terry Weir, at the shows. He offered him a job as an assistant at his studio. He was setting up to shoot something for Saks (Fifth Avenue) when Dan made a comment about the lighting in front of the client. Maybe the client heard him, because the next day, Linda Gaunt (who now works for Armani) called Lecca and offered him the job for the next month. He rented the studio from Terry.

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That was the beginning of an astounding career. Dan is shooting runway for some of the biggest newpapers and fashion magazines in the world. His client list includes: Harper's Bazaar, Allure, Town & Country, Marie Claire, The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine among others. In addition, Dan is currently the house runway photographer for many of fashion's best known designers including Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Celine, and shortly Louis Vuitton. His wife is shooting for The New York Times. "Do you remember in National Geographic where you see the top monkey ruling the pack? That's Dan, he's the top monkey on the runway scene. Everyone follows his lead, he has that kind of domineering personality. It's an unwritten law that he oversees the runway scene and straightens-out any problems happening up there" (Bill Marpett).


nomadron said...

Fascinating article - as usual. Just one point - I had a vision when I saw the title of someone standing on tarmac taking snaps of aircraft as they landed and took off. "Runway" is the strip of tarmac aircraft use. My understanding is that "catwalk" (walkway??) is the term for the area this photographer haunts. But this is not my field - and I no longer live in English speaking countries......
Keep up the good work

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