Behind the Lens with Frederic Auerbach

Frederic Auerbach is an internationally acclaimed fashion and celebrity photographer whose work has been featured in the world’s most prestigious editorials. The Swiss-born, LA-based lensman is renowned for his sensational images of Hollywood’s glitterati, including the likes of Zendaya, Natalie Portman, and Chris Hemsworth.

The Cutler and Gross Spring Summer 2024 campaign was photographed by Auerbach in Palm Springs, California. Through his sun-soaked shots Auerbach captured the mood of the collection, which draws inspiration from Palm Springs in the 60s – a Desert Hideaway for Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.

Speaking from Switzerland, Auerbach shared with Cutler and Gross his career journey, discussed the importance of improvisation, and revealed his biggest learnings.

The 9261 Cutler and Gross sunglasses
The 9261 sunglass in Old Brown Havana.

FA: From around 14 or 15 years old, yes. I wanted to work with people and I’m not very patient, so I knew still-life photography wasn’t for me. I was drawn to fashion photography because I always wanted to create pictures (and not document them, like a photojournalist). I went to art school and then directly on to Paris, where I started assisting before I branched out on my own. I worked in Paris for almost 30 years before ending up in Los Angeles.

FA: Not at all, if you have a plan B then you’re off to a bad start. If you really want to do something you need to completely commit yourself.

"A degree of stubbornness and perseverance in this industry is really important" - Frederic Auerbach

FA: I’m never nervous before a shoot, and I like improvising in the moment. It is true that when you’re photographing a celebrity the first shot is important because if they or their team don’t like it then it’s tricky to win back their trust. I often find that actors and actresses don’t actually like having their picture taken, they’re not models, but if you have a great first picture then things feel much easier.

FA: Exactly, it’s intuition. When you’ve done this for a while like me, you can totally feel it.

Frederic Auerbach photographed the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs

FA: Sometimes the shot is exactly what I imagined; sometimes it’s totally different; sometimes I end up pushing things further and further and it ends up looking better than I could’ve thought. 80% of it is improvisation, which you have to be fast about. The talent, the team, the stylists – together we’re like a locomotive and as the photographer you’re responsible for driving it. The team needs to feel safe and secure with you, otherwise things can go off the rails. You have to be good at improvising quickly and finding solutions on the spot.

FA: Yes, I have always been like this – I’m not into concepts, I’m much more about the moment. I love to shoot outside and get inspired by what’s around me, I’m drawn to what I see. With experience, you build more confidence to improvise too.

FA: Palm Springs is like the American picture book. The architecture, the great weather – it’s so photogenic. We shot the Cutler and Gross campaign in a private house, which was great because we could work in our bubble undisturbed. The geometry of the building with the pool and green lawn – it was beautiful.

"If I have a picture in mind then I won't let go of the idea" - Frederic Auerbach

FA: It’s not a moment as such, but I’m always proud of when I manage to encourage a celebrity out of their artistic comfort zone to achieve something brilliant. If I have a picture in mind and I’m sure it’ll be beautiful then I won’t let go of the idea.

The 9690 Cutler and Gross sunglasses
The 9690 sunglass in Black.

FA: A degree of stubbornness and perseverance in this industry is really important. You can’t be too nice, which can be tricky when you’re easy-going like me. As a photographer, you’ll often have people suggesting directions or ideas for the shoot that you know are wrong. It’s easy to roll over and say, ‘ok let’s do it’, especially when you’re starting out in the industry, but those images will come out, they won’t look great, and they’ll reflect on you. It’s crucial to defend your vision.

FA: Always be curious, open-minded, tolerant, and sensitive – this applies to everything, it’s very important to me.

FA: I have another exhibition coming up in September, and I’m publishing a book of my work around the same time. Tomorrow, I’m doing a shoot with a German actor who’s in an upcoming Netflix series, then I’ll head back to LA. In this industry, things move very fast – I could get a call today about a shoot next week. I’m used to this short-term business; it keeps me on my toes.

Stay up to date with Frederic Auerbach’s latest projects, upcoming exhibitions, and book launch on Instagram: @fredericauerbach

Explore his portfolio at

Cutler and Gross sunglasses and glasses
The 9261 optical in Black.

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