People’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ Celebrity Photographer Shares What He Thinks Is Sexy

People’s 2019 “Sexiest Man Alive” is musician John Legend, who has already shared that the “1995 John would be very perplexed to be following 2018 @IdrisElba as #SexiestManAlive.”

But according to celebrity photographer David Burton, who shot Elba for People last year, sexy isn’t just about what is on the outside. In 2018, People editors sought someone who was having a moment or a campaign. But they also wanted someone who was respectful of women and someone who had a kindness and a generosity of spirit.

Managing Editor for People Magazine Larry Hackett attends People Celebrates Iconic "Sexiest Man Alive" Issue in Times Square
Managing Editor for People Magazine Larry Hackett attends People Celebrates Iconic “Sexiest Man Alive” Issue in Times Square |Cindy Ord/Getty Images for People

Like Legend, Elba was humbled by the honor. “I was like, ‘Come on, no way. Really?’” he said, People reports.

Now Burton shares with Showbiz Cheat Sheet what is his idea of sexy and what it was like to photograph the “Sexiest Man Alive.” And what does Burton, who often photographs beautiful people, truly think is sexy?

This is what ‘sexy’ means to him

Burton shared that one quality he thinks makes someone sexy. “Confidence in who you are and what you stand for,” he said. “I am sure that is not the first time you have heard that but it is so true.”

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Here’s an #outtake of @idriselba #sexiestmanalive @people

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He adds that working with Elba was a treat too. “Idris is a great guy and I loved working with him,” he shared. “He is very comfortable in front of the camera which I think shows in the pictures.” Although a number of Burton’s shots were featured in the “Sexiest Man Alive” issue, he shared an outtake to his Instagram.    

Burton also said he feels lucky to work with people who seem to be comfortable behind the camera too. “I am always lucky enough to work with great professionals who are very comfortable in front of the camera.”

Burton makes his shoots fun to uncover his subject’s true essence

Even though Burton’s subjects tend to be pretty comfortable in front of the camera, he still uses some tricks to set the scene and enhance the mood. “With every commission I accept I focus on letting my subject be true to themselves,” he said. “A great photographer lets the subject’s personality shine through.”

He also sets the mood at the shoot through music and finds ways to ensure everyone has a good time. “As a photographer, I always try to make my sets fun whether it be through the crew I work with or the music that is played in the background,” he continued. “I am one of the lucky ones who loves going to work everyday because there is always fun to be had.”   

Although Burton is used to drawing out the sex appeal in human subjects, he was recently asked to shoot “The Sexiest Appliance Alive” for Maytag. He said, “The shoot was unique because the Maytag Man is portraying a hardworking and dependable Maytag appliance versus a man, so capturing the essence of that was fun.”  

In fact, Burton had as much fun shooting the appliance as he does some of his sexy human subjects. “I loved working with Maytag on the ‘Sexiest Appliance Alive’ campaign. Shooting an appliance was something new for me, but I had fun highlighting the true appeal of the brand and appreciate the brand’s sense of humor.  Maytag is known for its combination of dependability and desirability which was fun to capture, all while maintaining the Maytag Man’s persona as a hardworking appliance.”