German Larkin had never photographed a wedding when he booked his first job, at the Palace of Versailles in May 2017.
In the past year, he has taken pictures at the April wedding of celebrity Generation Z couple Nicola Peltz and Brooklyn Beckham; the February nuptials of Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief, and Alec Maxwell, a film-maker; and the November marriage of Paris Hilton and venture capitalist Carter Reum.
But were it not for a chance encounter, Larkin might have never become a wedding photographer.
Larkin, who is 41 and lives in Milan, was out one night in Florence, Italy, in June 2016, when he bumped into his friend Natalya Maximova while she was having dinner with Leslie Cohen Amon, a swimwear designer. Cohen Amon at the time was planning her wedding to Ronen Chichportich, who works in the diamond industry. Maximova, knowing that Larkin had been photographing at parties and fashion events, saw an opportunity.
“Natalya knew I was looking for a photographer to shoot my wedding and mentioned how talented he is when she introduced us,” Cohen Amon said. “I was specifically looking for someone different, who had never shot a wedding but had a connection with fashion — more an artist than a photographer.”
With no formal portfolio to show her, Larkin scrolled through his Instagram account for Cohen Amon, who then asked on the spot if she could book him for her nuptials at Versailles in France. “His images were strikingly good,” she said. “He had a way to use flash like no one else.”
That Larkin had no previous experience or even an interest in photographing weddings did not matter once Cohen Amon mentioned her venue. Of the opportunity, Larkin had one thought: “Versailles? Yes, please!”
After the wedding, Larkin’s photographs appeared with an article about the event on Vogue.com. (The article was written freelance by this writer, who did not know Larkin or the couple when she pitched it after seeing photos of the wedding shared on Instagram by Giambattista Valli, the fashion designer who made Cohen Amon’s dress.)
It wasn’t long before other couples took notice of Larkin’s career pivot.
High-profile nuptials he has since photographed also include the July 2021 wedding of Princess Diana’s niece Lady Kitty Spencer and Michael Lewis, the chair of fashion conglomerate Foschini Group; the September 2020 marriage of model and charity founder Natalia Vodianova and fashion executive Antoine Arnault; the January 2020 nuptials of Dasha Zhukova, an entrepreneur in the art and magazine worlds, and shipping heir Stavros Niarchos III; and the July 2019 wedding of Elie Saab Jr., the CEO of his father Elie Saab’s namesake fashion company, and Christina Mourad.
A Winding Path to Weddings
Larkin, who was born in Semey, Kazakhstan, to a German father and Russian mother, did not professionally pick up a camera until he was 30.
At 13, his parents divorced and he moved to Nuremberg, Germany, with his father. Three years later, at 16, he moved to Moscow to live with his mother and at 19, he moved to Milan, where he graduated from Bocconi University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2003. Larkin then sought opportunities to “do something in media,” as he put it.
He spent six years working in press offices for fashion companies including Aeffe, an Italian business that owns Moschino and other labels, before starting to write freelance for publications including Style.com, Russian Tatler, Grazia and Elle Ukraine.
As a writer, Larkin gravitated towards covering fashion shows and other events that drew “a cool gathering of people,” he said. For certain assignments, he would have to suggest pictures to run with a story, but often struggled to find photos that he liked on wire services.
“That’s when my artist-photographer friend Timoféy Kolesnikov showed me this small Leica D-Lux camera, which was really impressive,” said Larkin, who in early 2011 bought his own Leica camera so he could photograph events that he wrote about. (Leica remains his preferred brand to this day, although he also uses a Canon camera.)
Larkin, who had no formal photography training, said that his approach to the medium was influenced by his background in sociology. “I was really studying society with my lens,” he said, “to capture the rawness of what was happening behind the scenes at very glamorous events.” From the start, he was less interested in staged photo ops than he was in seeking out what he described as “real life,” or what was going on “at the tables, on the tables and under the tables.” — NYT