Born in Connecticut, one of three sons born to Helga LaChapelle, he moved to North Carolina as a child with his mother and two brothers. David takes his first photo at the age of six - while on a family vacation in Puerto Rico David takes a picture of his mother posing in her bathing suit on the hotel balcony.
He leaves home at the age of 15 and moves to New York. David initially lives at the 23rd St. YMCA and later moves in with a friend in the East Village. He finds work as a busboy at Studio 54 to make ends meet. Back to North Carolina to finish high school, he is accepted at the North Carolina School of the Arts.
After graduation David returns to New York and gets his first photo job at the age of 18 working for Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine. David studies at the Art Student League and School of Visual Arts in New York. He makes extra money by painting the faces on mannequins part-time.
Begins doing fashion and celebrity portraits for such magazines as Details, Vanity Fair, The Face, Paris Vogue, and Rolling Stone. He quickly becomes one of the hottest fashion and entertainment photographers in the world. He also begins work on a daring advertising campaign for Diesel Jeans. He also begins doing commercial photography for clients like MTV, Estee Lauder, Levis, Pepsi, and Armani.
Awarded Best New Photographer of the Year by both French Photo Magazine and American Photo Magazine in 1995, he also was named 1996 Photographer of the Year at the VH-1 Fashion Awards, and more recently received the International Center of Photography's Applied Photography Award.
David is named 1996 Photographer of the Year at the VH-1 Fashion Awards. He releases his first book of images, LaChapelle Land, in 1996. In 1997, he is awarded the International Center of Photography's Infinity Award.
David begins a foray into film in 1999 by directing two music videos. His first video is for The Dandy Warhols' "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth", followed by "Sugarcane" by the Space Monkeys. Lachapelle describes his directing style as, "Jack LaLane on acid."
He releases his 2nd book, Hotel LaChapelle, in 1999, and begins working on his first independent feature film.
David has been a tireless supporter of the gay community, while his pop culture influence extends deep into the mainstream with massive trendsetter crossover appeal and celebrity cache.