Los Angeles Magazine
Design Director: Steven E. Banks
Photo Director: Amy Feitelberg
Senior Art Director: Carly Herbert
Photographer: Henry Leutwyler
Heidi: How difficult was it to produce this shoot? Sounds like the writer Chris Nichols had been working on the production of this for sometime.
Amy: It was really difficult to produce this shoot for a number of reasons. Yes editor Chris Nichols had been working on it but we thought we were going to have way more time before we were going to shoot it. Chris was slowly gathering a list but as I started communicating with the team over at the museum, I was quickly realizing they were installing everything we wanted to shoot at that very moment and we weren’t going to have access to it once it was installed.
What was it about Henry’s work that made you choose him for this assignment?
Why didn’t you consider a LA born and bred based photographer since this was a tribute to LA?
I had been in early talks with Henry about the idea of shooting this. He is definitely an NYC shooter but I thought he would want to do the project b/c it was so up his alley. At first we were going to tackle a different subject for Best of LA that would have been a sort of behind the scenes/reportagey kind of thing that I wanted him for after I spent time with his Ballet book. But when we switched to objects, I thought, well he’s still the perfect person for the job b/c he does both so beautifully. If you’ve seen his Michael Jackson stuff – it’s beautiful!
So we had had a casual conversation about this shoot that I thought we weren’t going to do until the end of May. He was coming to town for Paris photo and we were going to have dinner and discuss it. When I realized our window was closing for access I called Henry in a panic and said ‘CAN YOU STAY IN TOWN FOR THE WEEK AFTER PARIS PHOTO TO SHOOT THIS PLEEEAASSEEE!’ To add to the craziness, we were closing current issue at the time and I was committed to go to Palm Springs photo later that week and this was the last thing I planned on doing. Luckily his schedule totally worked out for it. I brought out his assistant and we headed to the basement of the museum Monday morning. Then we had a challenging task of picking objects that hadn’t yet been installed, objects that were beautiful and interesting, and ones that hit on all the major influences into the building of Los Angeles. It was really tough to get the right mix.
Where they shot on site at the Natural History Museum? Where there any special handling techniques required to shoot these pieces?
They were all shot on site at the museum and none of us were allowed to touch ANY of the objects. Beth Werling who is a historian there had to handle everything so Henry would say ‘a little to the right. now left. now up. now down.’ that kind of thing for 4 straight days.
Were you on set for this?
I was on set for the shoot. I had to run around that place like a nut for a lot of days but it was really fun. Henry and his assistant Billy Jim were great to work with. Henry shot way more than we even had room for.
Which piece as the hardest to shoot?
For the opening shot which is the map of LA, that was really hard. It’s like 20 feet long and it had already been installed. To get up high enough to shoot it from about wasn’t possible and we couldn’t turn off the lights in the ceiling to get rid of the glare. We couldn’t pull it all the way out because even though it was on rollers, it would hit the other installations. Henry had to get down in it to make it work. I was surprised how beautifully it came out considering how restrictive it was.