A conversation with Alexi Lubomirski

June 24, 2017
Written by Kristin Myers

Join us for a one-on-one chat with our newest Celebrity Partner Alexi Lubomirski on his journey from fashion photographer to humanitarian.

Q: Did you always want to be a photographer?

Alexi LubomirskiI was always into art and tried my hand at all different forms, from fine art and sculpture to graphic and fashion design.

But I’m impatient, and found that photography was the fastest art form that allowed me to create narratives, which was a passion of mine.

Q: How did you get involved in fashion photography?

At photography college, I would use every project as an excuse to find a good looking guy and girl, dress them up, and take pictures of them. The teacher gave me the worst mark at the end of my course, but told me I would be a great fashion photographer one day.

“We are all one human race with the same desires to not only survive but thrive, and we need to feel that connection more and more.”

After graduation, I hit the streets of London with a tiny university portfolio, asking anyone to give me just two minutes of their time to give me advice. Of the 80-odd people that I saw, only four opened the door to me. The last person on the list was a big photography agent who took pity on me and introduced me to the world-famous photographer Mario Testino who brought me on as an assistant. I followed him around the world for a grueling, but invaluable four years. I then branched out on my own and ended up here!

Q: Most people wouldn’t expect a fashion photographer to also be a humanitarian. Have you always been so heavily involved in charitable work?

I have given to various charities since I received my first paycheck as a photographer. Ever since I was 14, it was something that I had always wanted to be able to do, but I never believed I had enough money to make a difference. (I should have known that even the smallest amount can make a difference!)

Alexi Lubomirski

Alexi attributes his desire to help people in different parts of the world to his mixed heritage and childhood spent in many different places. Photo courtesy: Alexi Lubomirski

Q: Why is it important to you to be involved in humanitarian work?

I think that it is the simplest of human duties to help others, especially when you are so fortunate yourself. We go through our daily existence taking for granted the most ordinary of things: having a roof over our head, having food in our stomachs, having clean water to drink, having our health, without having to fear persecution, droughts, or famine.

Q: Do you think your upbringing, growing up in different countries affected your desire to help people in different parts of the world?

There is definitely something to that. Whenever I chose a charity to give to, it was always a “global” charity.

I think that deep down, due to my mixed heritage (Polish/French father and a Peruvian/English mother) and growing up between the UK, Botswana, France, and the US, I never felt that anywhere in particular was “home” — or that I belonged to any one country.

So yes, I think that definitely influenced my wish to help people in other countries. If my upbringing and background taught me anything, it was that we are all one human race, with the same desires to not only survive but thrive — and we need to feel that connection more and more.

Alexi with his two young sons. Photo courtesy: Alex Lubomirski

Q: Did becoming a father and husband change you, in wanting to be a bigger activist?

I think that becoming a husband and a father had a tremendous effect on me.  It makes you want to be a better man for your wife and a better role model for your sons.

Funnily enough, being a son to my step father in his last days was also very influential in me wanting to do more. I was lucky enough to be with him during his last days and we spoke a lot about life, and what he was able to take from it.

He was happy that after retiring, he had worked for the Samaritans as a phone councilor.  He said that being able to help others through the hardest of times had had a profound and rewarding effect on him.

Q: Why do you think more people should get involved in humanitarian work?

Apart from the “human duty to help others” aspect, people don’t realize what you can get out of helping others. We believe that we don’t have time, funds, or energy to spare for others, and instead we spend all those things on empty pursuits which give us nothing meaningful in return.

“Whole communities, decimated by a natural disaster, are being helped to rebuild. Concern stays after many international nonprofits had moved on, to help get affected people back on their feet and on the road to recovery.”

Q: You’ve supported Concern for a long time — how long? And with all the international nonprofits out there, why Concern?

Alexi Lubomirski

Alexi Lubomirski has donated all proceeds from his two books to Concern Worldwide US. Photo courtesy: Alexi Lubomirski

I had always wanted to give a percentage of my earnings to charity, so when I got my first pay check as a photographer 13 years ago, I went out that morning to research who to give it to. Serendipitously, the first person I passed in the street was a Concern spokeswoman. With Concern, I was able to donate to an organization that was in a lot of the places I was reading about in the news — dealing with famine, drought, refugees, and natural disasters. For me it was a one-stop shop… Donate to them and help many causes.

Q: If you had to convince a stranger to support Concern, what would you tell them?

While many international nonprofits target the hotspots to attract as much media attention as possible, Concern targets the off the radar communities that are getting little to no press. Whole communities, decimated by a natural disaster, are being helped to rebuild. Concern stays after many international nonprofits had moved on, to help get affected people back on their feet and on the road to recovery. This fact alone makes me really believe in Concern’s character and mission.

Alexi on Instagram

Be sure to check out Alexi’s Instagram channel! Amongst all the photos of beautiful people in beautiful locations, you’ll also find some of Alexi’s thoughts and reactions to stories and images from Concern, just like the one below.

Sahara Hassan in Somalia

Alexi often shares Concern images on his Instagram channel, such as this one of Sahara Hassan, in Mogadishu, Somalia. She was attending her first year of formal education at a Concern-supported school. Photo: Kieran McConville

Yes, keep me updated on Concern's work