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Exclusive: Iconic photographer Markus Klinko shares rare details of working with 'humble' Beyonce and 'super smart' Britney Spears

 Markus Klinko is the go-to photographer for any celebrity

Composite image of Beyonce, Markus Klinko and Britney Spears
Rebecca Lewis
Rebecca Lewis - Los Angeles
ReporterLos Angeles
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Beyonce's most iconic album cover Dangerously in Love turns 21 in 2024, and now the acclaimed celebrity photographer Markus Klinko who shot the cover has shared with HELLO! how much he loves working with the "humble" singer. 

"Beyonce is among the top three most photographed women on earth and I probably took the most famous picture of the most photographed woman on earth. I think that album cover shot still to this day seems to define her and this makes me very proud," Markus said, while speaking from his home in Los Angeles. 

Beyonce poses with right arm over her head holding her raised left arm for the cover of Dangerously in Love album© Markus Klinko
Cover of Beyonce's Dangerously in Love album

"Obviously these artists evolved and they only become more iconic, and in the case of Beyonce,  iconic is really the word. There's no other word, she's the quintessential icon and we have a wonderful relationship." 

He continued: "[She has such]  generosity and she's very very down to earth; collaborating with her has never felt like I'm working with a diva in the way we think of, she's a very humble and very very generous person and Incredibly gifted." 

After 30 years in the industry, Markus remains the photographer all celebrities want to work with; he has collaborated with Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet, David Bowie and Iman, Kim Kardashian and many, many more. 

Markus Klinko attends the 2000s Exhibition Opening at Mouche Gallery, Sponsored by Fujifilm on June 14, 2018 © Amy Graves
Markus Klinko attends the 2000s Exhibition Opening at Mouche Gallery, Sponsored by Fujifilm on June 14, 2018

Markus – who grew up in Switzerland in the early 1960s and was an accomplished harp soloist before a hand injury in his thirties left him looking for a new creative outlet – is being honored at the 2024 Hollywood Beauty Award, where he will be handed the Outstanding Achievement In Photography award from Jaime King.

Paris Hilton as shot by Markus Klinko in 2024© Markus Klinko
Paris Hilton as shot by Markus Klinko in 2024

"I'm excited because I know that it is an award that I'm getting; I don't have to go sit there and wait for the decision," he quipped. 

"Barbra Streisand [at the SAG Awards talked about] the stress of not knowing if you're getting it so I'm going to steal that line from her!" 

Mariah Carey stands with arms outstretched wearing a sheer white gown, her silhouette is visibile© Markus Klinko
Mariah Carey as shot by Markus Klinko

You'll know his work even if you don't know it's by Markus, as he shot two of the the most famous album covers of all time, Dangerously in Love, and Mariah Carey's The Emancipation of Mimi, as well as Britney Spears' Onyx Tour pictures. 

"When you work on these major productions with a big celebrity, there's a lot of people involved, and most of the time this is not a problem," Markus said of working with Britney in 2004, who at the time was not yet under the controversial conservatorship that marked 15 years of her life until 2023. 

Britney Spears poses in front of a floral wall in a green dress for the Onyx Tour promotional pictures shot by Markus Klinko© Markus Klinko
Britney Spears' Onyx Tour promotional pictures shot by Markus Klinko

"So when Britney Spears entered my studio in 2004 she was accompanied by her dad and her manager Larry Rudolph and quite a large team – but everyone was sent off to play chess in a back room, and we really talked about her ideas. 

"She had scribbled some notes on a napkin, some ideas she had for her tour – 'Enchanted Forest'  and the 'Ice Princess,' keywords like that – and I showed her the ideas I had prepared and it became a wonderful moment where she channeled all of these personas for those pictures that have become iconic. 

Britney Spears' Onyx Tour promotional pictures shot by Markus Klinko© Markus Klinko
Britney Spears' Onyx Tour promotional pictures shot by Markus Klinko

"We had a blast; she was very sexy and super smart. She understood exactly what I wanted from her and we worked until  three o'clock in the morning and nobody interfered and it was just an incredibly fantastic time. She's a super bright and Incredibly talented artist… I've been recently talking to her team about doing a 20th anniversary thing with her, but I am still waiting to hear back." 

Working with Mariah "happened in such an unexpected way," however, revealed  Markus, sharing how he received a call late one night while eating dinner, only for his agent to tell him that Mariah was on the other line and she "wanted to speak to me immediately". 

Mariah Carey for the Emancipation of Mimi album cover© Markus Klinko
Mariah Carey for the Emancipation of Mimi album cover

The singer had decided that she wanted to take the photographs the following day, and knew exactly what she wanted, referring to a Wolford campaign Markus had shot that was, at the time, in all the magazines.

"It was certainly a moment. It was this superhero image of a model, and Mariah wanted exactly that same pose," said Markus. "It was interesting though, because she is such an icon but it felt wrong to me to grant that request and [produce] a copy of my own work – but it became something else and it really marked that year. It was the most successful album of 2005 and I think the most successful album of her career." 

Kim Kardashian poses for Markus Klinko© Markus Klinko
Kim Kardashian poses for Markus Klinko

Markus is now preparing to photograph Mariah again ahead of her 2024 Las Vegas residency, "as she's using all the Mimi pictures" for inspiration. 

Despite being in his sixties, he is still booked and busy, most recently working with Taylor Swift's pal Ice Spice, and Billie Eilish, and with exhibitions at the Westgate Tuscany Villa, the former personal suite of Elvis Presley in Las Vegas, and the Bel-Air Fine Art gallery at Le Royal Monceau, in Paris, France. 

He has also been working with Paris Hilton again, 24 years after he first shot her for GQ, and is keen to work with Sydney Sweeney, whom he calls "the ultimate goddess in Hollywood". 

Katie Holmes leans back on a red chaise lounge© Markus Klinko
Katie Holmes is among the many celebrities Markus Klinko has photographed

But there is always one that got away. 

"I never shot Madonna, believe it or no," he said, ruefully. "I shot all the great Divas but Madonna, I never shot her. I would love to shoot Madonna."

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