Ethan Pines talks about photographing Elizabeth Holmes for Forbes
In late 2014 I photographed Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and CEO of the now notoriously fraudulent blood-testing company and Silicon Valley darling Theranos. When I shot her for the Forbes 400 issue, she was the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world. By 2016 The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and others had published excoriating investigative pieces, and Forbes estimated her net worth at zero.
Suddenly her story is everywhere again: John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood is a hit, HBO’s documentary The Inventor just premiered at Sundance, the ABC News podcast The Drop Out is streaming, and a seemingly endless number of articles on Holmes’s massive fraud have come out. In addition to appearing editorially here and there, my portraits have been licensed as key art for the HBO documentary and the ABC podcast.
And friends keep asking me, What was it like at the company? What did you see around their offices? How was it spending a few hours with the woman who appears to be a narcissistic, delusional fraud, maybe even a sociopath? The short answer is, I now see clearly how her starry-eyed investors were taken in.
The company came across as fairly standard Silicon Valley. A campus in Palo Alto, a P.R. person coordinating and vetting everything beforehand, modern open-office architecture, lots of young people from an array of countries walking around doing their jobs. On the walls were large prints from a Martin Schoeller shoot commissioned by the company — including a portrait of Holmes herself — and a giant mural with Yoda’s famous DO OR DO NOT. THERE IS NO TRY. The company was accommodating and welcoming, which is usually the case when you’re coming in to shoot a potential Forbes cover.
As a biotech company, they also had a ton of lab equipment, machinery and accessories around. In hindsight, I keep wondering, if Theranos’s core technology and promises couldn’t deliver, what was all this for? I suppose they were trying to make good on Holmes’s unproven, likely impossible promise of conducting dozens of tests from a single drop of blood, i.e., they were following tech’s ubiquitous fake-it-till-you-make-it approach. Some areas were a jam-packed, disorganized mess. (See next image.)
As for Holmes herself, photographing her was entirely different from what you might think. While she apparently sought to emulate Steve Jobs — his mythically genius status, his black minimalist wardrobe, his change-the-world ambitions, his megalomania — she did not adopt his difficult demeanor, at least on the day we spent with her. Jobs was reputed to be an awful jerk. Holmes was polite, genuine, easygoing, friendly, accessible and an engaged conversationist. She asked about me and my crew, never dominating the conversation. She did her own hair and makeup (quite well). She spent much of her time on set without her her P.R. person around.
I’ve photographed a lot of tech CEOs — Sundar Pichai at Google, Elon Musk at Spacex, Kevin Systrom at Instagram, Jen-Hsun Huang at Nvidia, Tom Siebel at C3 IoT, Patrick Soon-Shiong at Nantworks, Travis Kalanick at Uber, etc. — and they all either have very little time, a specific way they want to be portrayed, or both. Some have that CEO swagger, some are immersed in their own deep thoughts. Yet Elizabeth Holmes was surprisingly malleable, seemingly a blank slate.
She ceded control, trusted us with the shoot and took direction well. She didn’t come out of the gate with fake investor-friendly smiles and body language, nothing smug, no crossed-arm power poses like subjects tend to do for Forbes. I asked her to relax her face completely and just look into the camera, and we got those doe-eyed blank expressions you see in the posters. Between her black turtleneck, shaped black jacket and asymmetrical hair, she had a bit of a sci-fi look, and I told her so. She appreciated the compliment. She was a bit of a dream subject, and I think I was developing a crush on her.
She gave us a lot of time, which is unusual. After setting up for about three hours beforehand, we shot her in three different locations for at least a couple of hours. In two of the setups I asked if we could have some blood samples in the shots, and I found it a bit weird that they had these tiny, fake blood containers just sitting around, at the ready … for what? Publicity? Internal presentations? Employee morale? There was also a metal cart labeled Ebola in the lab where we shot, which freaked us out a bit.
If you’ve seen footage of her talking, you’ve probably noticed her unusually low voice. There are rumors that she deliberately lowered her voice to compete in the male-dominated tech field, but I don’t recall it being that low, and I think I would have remembered something so odd. What I do remember is being charmed by this young, attractive, billionaire visionary who spent time with me and my crew and made us feel important.
And now I realize: This is part of what lured investors. Sincerity. Relatability. Accessibility. Simplicity. The facade of quiet wisdom. Eye contact from huge blue eyes that made you feel you were hearing the unvarnished truth. How could there be anything sinister or deceitful behind those giant, pure glacial pools? In a promotional video commissioned by the company, a compilation of female employees dreamily laud Holmes as “inspiring,” ”intelligent,” “strong,” “nurturing” and full of “big ideas.” Holmes appears at the end the video. At first she looks down humbly, speaks thoughtfully. Finally she looks up at the lens to deliver the final line: “Next to every glass ceiling there’s an iron lady.”
You couldn’t help liking her, wanting to believe her, itching to embrace the dreamy future she promised. I could see how investors and the media were taken in, just as I was. How bizarre to look back and realize that we were in the belly of a massive fraud machine, the deception happening all around us. It’s hard to know what was real and what was fake, both in the company and in Holmes herself. By the end, perhaps not even she knew.
Design Director/Creative Director: D.W. Pine Photographer: Andrew Quilty
Heidi: How has politics shaped your work there? Andrew: American foreign policy since 9/11 shaped my opinion and much of my mission here. I’ve been focusing on Afghans rather than on Americans in Afghanistan. Granted it’s little bit easier for me to concentrate on Afghans over Americans because I am here at a time when the American involvement has been significantly reduced, especially in comparison to 2008 to ‘12. Having said that, America’s involvement in Afghanistan since 2001—and it’s failures—affect affairs here on a daily basis. It’s hard to separate that affect from any subject a journalist might choose to look at here, and I don’t think it should be
What was your sense of the country before you arrived? When I came here, all I knew of the country was what I had seen through the media
I have this photo in my head: 10 camouflage-wearing soldiers walking through a dusty village or across a dusty plain. Before 2001, I wouldn’t have even had that. I wouldn’t have even been able to place Afghanistan on a map, let alone tell you who was there, who’d come and gone or who was in charge on September 11.
What drives you? More and more, I feel an obligation to redirect the minds of readers and viewers who, for the most part, like their governments, are only interested in Afghanistan insofar as it effects them or their national self interest. It’s playing out now with America’s number one priority during peace talks with the Taliban being a guarantee that Afghanistan won’t be used as a base for terror groups with international aspirations, with the future for Afghans seemingly a distant second. There’s some anger toward the Americans and their allies for the hubris that allowed them to think they could mould yet another country that was only moderately willing into a shape more suitable to them. And there’s probably some guilt that I’m from one of those countries that followed the U.S. in, blindly, driven by emotion and revenge.
How do you think your images would have been different had you been in the country earlier? I don’t want to criticise those who came before me because, in the early years of the war there was an appetite for what the international soldiers were doing. Of course readers from Australia want to know what their soldiers are doing; why they’re fighting and dying and coming home mentally ruined. I have no doubt that if I was here, then, I’d have been covering the international military mission almost exclusively, too. But what we rarely heard about were the Afghans affected by the war. The innocent ones being killed in horrific ways. Or why, after the Taliban had been ousted, were people turning against their “liberators.” Afghanistan was still depicted in simplistic way: government good, Taliban bad, when the reality was far more complex. That simplification not only damaged the international public’s understanding of Afghanistan and the deteriorating situation here in recent years, it also ensured the failure of the international military mission and built a culture of corruption into the government and its institutions.
Is this a reaction to how the media has imbalanced everything? It wasn’t about Afghanistan. No one really cared about the outcome for Afghanistan. It was-and still is-all about Afghanistan in relation to how it will affect America. So I just find that a little unfair.
How are you trying to humanize this in your own mind? I think about the people who had no say in this. First they were given hope, then despair and the whole roller coaster that’s ensued. What about them? International interest has tended to focus more on those who made the choice to come here. I hate the cliche of the journalist’s roll being to speak for the downtrodden, but when the balance is so far out of wack, as I feel it was through the majority of the war, and when those who have, and continue to impose well-meaning but dismal policy and strategy are all but impervious to reproach, it’s hard not to back the underdog.
What speaks to you about this experience? and what is misunderstood by those that consume your work? Well, look, I think a lot of people assume that I’m here out of some sense of vocation– and yeah I think that’s part of it but I also think there’s a lot of other things to consider. I actually quite like my life here outside of my work. Although work is pretty all-consuming, I happen to love the work that I’m able to do here. But my point is, a lot of people assume I’m making huge sacrifices and taking massive risks being here, and that I’m doing it all for the sake of the Afghan people. In general, I don’t even think photographers and journalists are particularly empathetic people. That’s a myth that viewers can easily fall for by looking at the kind of subjects many of us focus on but I don’t think it’s entirely accurate. Sure, I get affected by things here – I’ll have to wipe away tears while listening to people tell their stories and I won’t sleep a wink for a couple of days after being close to a bombing but I’m not sure a deeply empathetic person would last long—assuming they had the choice to leave—in this kind of environment. I suppose it’s a journalist’s job to be able to switch it on and off; to be able to channel it into words or pictures rather than letting it overwhelm ones soul.
What is your life like there? I manage a nice old Afghan house that’s home to two dogs taken off the street before I arrived and an assortment of others, mostly journalists, who stay for varying lengths of time. I read the news over breakfast and coffee most days and, if I don’t have something specific to work on I’ll try to get out on my motorcycle to shoot some pictures. As a photographer, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this city. Aside from that, like any photographer or journalist, I’m planning trips into the provinces, pitching or filing stories, sending invoices, responding to emails and, twice or three times each week I’ll do something social, usually dinner or drinks at a friend’s place, taking a new housemate along on the back of the bike.
Are you married? Do you have children? No. No, no. Neither. I’ve had a couple of semi-long-term relationships here in Kabul. But I’ve never dated an Afghan. The foreigner crowd here is a good group of people, by and large. They’re all in similar life circumstances – no kids, no mortgage, maybe or maybe not married. So it’s a bunch of people who are at a similar stage in their life and they’re usually pretty good at what they do. It’s like small-town life with people who have chosen to eschew small-town life.
Dinner table conversation is always really interesting, save for when it inevitably turns to matters of security in Kabul. But that’s a bonus. Obviously good dinner table conversation wouldn’t be enough to keep me here if I didn’t love my work, as I do in a way I never have before. Back in Sydney, I was probably really invested in 20% of the work I did. I cared about it. I cared about what I was photographing. The other 80% was what I had to do to pay the bills. Here, I mean, it’s beyond the inverse. I mean, there’s very little that I photograph here that I don’t find interesting, that I’m not personally curious about or that I don’t think is important. It’s very hard to find a subject here that isn’t in some way affected by the country’s history, and that history makes those subject’s stories compelling in a way that is rare, especially somewhere like Australia. As a photographer, it’s hard to turn away from that.
When I go on your Instagram and see what you are publishing if looks like an incredible opportunity, photographically to personally grow so I would understand why. Yes.
You’re going to come out the other side of this immersion a completely changed person, Most people wouldn’t even think about trying… Yeah, very much so. Most people assume that you can only come out the other end of a period working as a photographer in Afghanistan as a diminished person, damaged by what you’ve seen. If I left now, I’d leave a richer person than the one that arrived here five years ago.
You’ve said you arrived in Afghanistan and just knew that was it. Many people struggle to craft a voice. What I enjoy about your work is — I feel like you’re happy. You’ve zeroed in on a very distinct voice and eye and you’re able to articulate your pictures. It’s fortunate that you’ve found this calling because most people search for this their whole lives. Yeah. Yeah. I know. I know. And I didn’t even knew I was looking for it. I thought I was satisfied in the work I was doing back in Australia and from New York, and now I look back on it, and it’s like BC/AD – before and after I came to Afghanistan. Now, on my website, I don’t have a single picture that wasn’t taken in Afghanistan. It’s a very distinct line for me. It’s also helped me realise the potential of photography as a means to tell stories, or to inform, in a way I’d never understood.
I’m sure that there’s some haunting things that you’re seeing, too. How do you cope with that? I try to look after myself and eat well and exercise and all those things. Speaking with friends. I mean, that’s the good thing about being here. Everyone is in the same boat, and strangely enough, some of my fondest memories here are of the nights following either a big bombing or an incident where someone we know has been killed or injured. Coming together with a small group of friends, just being together, helps. What was that line in the movie Speed? Something about relationships formed under intense circumstances. Those will certainly be some of my strongest memories.
It’s rich. It’s real life that’s so visceral. Yeah. It’s real experience. Yeah. And also part of the reason which makes it hard for me to think about leaving, and most people seem to think I should.
Right. They’re probably afraid for you. People project and can’t even imagine themselves doing that, so it’s natural. Yeah, of course.
Do you pitch stories written and shot by you? Yes, I pitch stories myself and write them myself as well. But that’s relatively new. It came as a result of some of people I used to work and travel with leaving the country. All of a sudden I had to rethink where my assignments would come from, whereas previously, they tended to fall in my lap. Not only that, the stories attached to the assignments stopped coming, so, almost overnight I had to start thinking for myself. It’s a new way of working for me. Where I started my work as a photographer, at The Australian Financial Review in Sydney, I’d be handed my assignments on a piece of A4 paper each morning. It was very rare that I ever had to think for myself. It’s a bad habit that many photographers are bred into. The best photographers, I think, are thinking photographers, the ones who know their subjects intimately, rather than just turning up for a day after the writer has been and gone. So it’s actually been a blessing in disguise, and a challenge
Tell us about the making of this photo which was nominated for World Press Photo for 2019.
I was in a shop, below street level, about 200 metres from where a man driving an ambulance packed with explosives detonated when he was stopped at a police checkpoint. I was asked a similar question when I was home in Sydney recently. I was sitting on on a beach on a hot summer day with some new friends. They asked me about the worst thing I’d seen in Afghanistan. Without much enthusiasm, I gave them the thirty second version of what followed the explosion. The reaction was predictable. The kind of shock expressed to fulfil the social obligation of revulsion, not through actual revulsion, because how could anyone who hasn’t seen something like that conceive of how horrific it is? But we should be horrified. It was at that moment that I decided, if I was ever asked about it again, that I’d tell the whole story or not at all.
Heidi: Is this your first project where you’re the EIC? I know you’ve had long, successful career as a creative director/ photographer. Ger: My career as an artist started early as a teenager and over the decades I’ve found myself in many different roles, crossing various disciplines and mediums. Today I look at an unusually extensive set of skills and experiences even from times before I segued into working almost solely as a creative director and photographer in the fields of fashion, photojournalism, celebrity culture and conceptual art. For The Unseasonal all of that becomes one and it can be seen as a proof that being a jack of several trades can sometimes create unusual opportunities and outcomes. I believe that only with me serving in multiple roles, I could make this magazine what it is today. The Unseasonal is a very intimate and uniquely homogeneous publication with one strong unified vision behind it. So I do find myself the first time also in the role of the editor-in-chief but I look at it more as a necessity than a choice. To me the written word has to be in symbiosis with the imagery and choices of angles, style and topics are following similar rules. The result is an overall feeling with some depth and integrity that readers can sense, that is difficult to put into words but many people seem to resonate with.
What are the differences between those roles? In reality I’m the photo director as well but for The Unseasonal photography is so much in the DNA that a mention in the masthead becomes irrelevant. So since, I find myself in the main roles as the editor-in-chief and the creative director I try to disregard the lines in a similar way I learned to dismantle the boundaries of different mediums. For a while I was lecturing on what I call a universal artistic language. Mediums can be interchangeable and without boundaries. The very same aesthetic of a photograph for instance can be expressed in acoustic work alike. Grain becomes hiss, fog static noise and so on. There is no question that for big corporations and most magazines separating demanding top positions make a lot of sense. But with my diverse background I also saw the advantage in doing things differently. Differences between my roles become indistinct and sometimes things become a bit autocratic or autobiographic, then again very open and collaborative. The overall atmosphere of the outcome is what really counts. I look on every issue of The Unseasonal as a mix tape and it all needs to start in my gut or my heart. It is a very personal, artistic approach with a fantastic team behind it. This framework makes it possible to transport an absolute pure vision without any compromises or battles of egos. It is a very professional, quiet and peaceful way of working.
How did this idea come about? The longer I had been working for many of the most renowned magazines in the world — including Vogue, L’Officiel, and Interview — the more I felt there was also room for something else. For something of a different curation, of another voice, for a more timeless approach, and for treating fashion more as a feeling, artistic form of expression, and way of living. I wanted to put photography on a center stage, offer more room to breathe, give editorial projects more time, and make a magazine that can be a common denominator for many different types and classes of people. I also believed in a magazine that can be truly global, feels like a light summer breeze and at the same time is deep and substantial — something you want to bring on a vacation or that accompanies you for a long time. Something of a certain value that is between a collectible item, a periodical and a book.
Why did you feel the need launch this magazine? With what is going on in the world today, I felt the urge to provide people with the inspiration and lightness for making the world a better place.I also felt it was time for a new over-spanning genre of a magazine that adapts to the change in seasons – both in fashion and the world — and counteracts fast fashion and meaningless social media madness with timeless aesthetics and deep storytelling. I was dreaming of a magazine about passion that unifies fashion, art, travel, and the human condition. A magazine of a rare artistic quality that represents the feeling of a getaway, of slowing down, of exotic places, escapism, breathtaking dreams, and lightness of being, all with elements from the past, the present, and the future. With job and budget cuts in publishing left and right I was even more so dreaming about a magazine that puts quality and content first again.
What do you feel is the problem if any with existing publications? With the rise of digital and Instagram the existing editorial market imploded but the number of independent magazines exploded. Together with people getting increasingly tired of globalization, capitalism, impersonal corporate structures and digital technologies, there was a growing demand for something different, more personal, tangible, and substantial but market surveys do not seem to identify the gaps. So budgets for editorial projects have been continuously decreasing, resulting in a decline in quality and no willingness to take risks. Many established magazines lost their unique selling proposition and slipped into irrelevance. I think people more and more gave up on the publishing industry since for a while it seemed there were not many revolutionary ideas left to try for how a magazine in today’s world can feel and be put together. There is room for much more than doing just another magazine. But people need to step back, observe, take risks again and adapt to the present and the future. Also to how social media and new technologies changed our behaviors but this does neither mean that all will be digital nor that print always needs to look the same. I see it as a great opportunity. It’s the right time for new structures and something warm, beautiful and meaningful.
Do you have an online component to this? Yes. Although print is absolutely essential for The Unseasonal, we strongly believe that online is an important part as well. Just like the print magazine, the website is evolving and there are many plans and ideas for it. Both components have different strength, so we do not try to blindly mirror content but rather embrace each medium’s strengths. Also — some readers generally do not buy magazines, others do not read much online. And then there is a group of people who do both. With online we can put out things faster and with print we can take more time.
If I someone wanted to contribute, how do they get involved? We usually do not accept submissions but do appreciate and try to respond to every email, letter or message we receive. Whenever possible I take the time myself to look through the work and read the pitches. I do value the potential or a steady, unique voice in someone’s work above an established but mainstream portfolio.
Excerpt from “The New York Cover That Made Me Want to Make Magazines” / New York Press Room
One of my favorite covers of this magazine is called “Notes on the Paralyzed Generation.” The issue came out in 1970, when I was 13 (not quite of that generation, but desperately wanting to be the hippie boy on the cover), and I remember yanking it from our mail pile. The cover picture is a deeply sarcastic portrait of mother and that bell-bottomed adult son — the son, obviously able, in a wheelchair. The photographer was a man who did many of New York’s early covers, Carl Fischer. He was a genius; satiric covers are incredibly difficult to pull off and he succeeded almost all of the time. The coverline of that issue read, “Of course he can walk. Thank God he doesn’t have to.” At the time, I thought it — picture and headline in unison — was hilarious. I still do. The cover taught me that great magazines are steeped in point of view, voice, tone. They live. And seeing that cover for the first time is probably what made me want to make magazines for a living, though I didn’t know that at the time. — Adam Moss
Adam Moss took over editorship of New York Magazine in 2004 and is now stepping down. Here’s a few of his seminal covers being shared online by those who praise his work.
Heidi: How did this assignment come about, did you bring the idea to them?
Amy: I had heard about the Malle London Great Mile previously and always thought it sounded amazing! But then I was approached by a German journalist to join the event for a number of magazines. I got to ride and photograph the journey. It was one of the best assignments I’ve ever been asked to photograph! I loved it so much as an assignment, myself and my fiancé have booked ourselves in for the 2019 Rally!
Do you find most are surprised you are a female in this type of work?
Yes!! I still get asked if I am photographing for a University project, and they are surprised when I tell them that I photograph cars for my job. I think it’s a little disappointing that it’s still a question I get asked, but I truly hope that I can try and help change this view for future females in the automotive world.
Do you ride motorcycles and where does your love for driving and and road tripping come from?
I learnt how to ride motorcycles just 2 years ago. I’ve always wanted to ride but felt I wouldn’t fit in to the riding world as a girl. It wasn’t until I started photographing the bike world that I realised it was so fun and anyone was welcome! I think I’ve always had a strong desire for adventure and road trips. When I was 19, I did a solo road trip in my classic Mini 1600 miles around Scotland, just because I wanted to. My parents have always encouraged us to explore, often taking us camping or hiking up mountains! My dad would always tell us stories of his road trips around the world, I don’t think I’d ever not be adventurous!
You have a lot of motorsport work, where does your interest in motorsport come from?
My dad has always worked in the motorsport world, at one point working for Team Lotus in Formula 1, so our family has always been around cars and had a love for classic cars especially. When I learnt to drive, I loved the feeling of freedom. I loved how classic cars looked, they were so full of character. I wasn’t interested in what was under the bonnet, I just loved the smells, the designs, the freedom these beautiful machines could give me. That’s when I bought my 1985 Mini Mayfair! And then when I learnt to ride motorcycles, I bought a 1972 Honda 350F. This year I acquired a 1930 BSA L30, a 1945 B33 and a 1961 BSA Bantam!
How many days was the rally?
The Rally was 7 days in total, riding for 5 of them. We arrived on day 1, registered and met our rally-mates, and then set off early the following morning. Each day we roughly rode 230 miles along some of the smallest coastal roads in the UK, but the ones with the very best views. Each day was magical.
Did you shoot from the car or the back of motorcycle?
Both! At some points I was photographing from the back of a convertible Mini that came from the official Mini Museum! Other times I would sit on the back of one of our team members and photograph over their shoulder. I love to photograph from the bike of bikes as it gives the viewer a but better sense of doing the bike trip too, rather than simply observing the trip from a car.
Creative Director: Andrew Diprose Photo Director: Dalia Nassimi Acting Photo Director: Cindy Parthonaud Photographer:Christie Hemm Klok
Heidi: What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Christie: I got a lot of direction from the magazine. When Cindy Parthonaud, the acting photo director at the time, approached me about the shoot she had a pretty clear vision in mind. She referenced an image that I had taken for WIRED US back when I worked in house for them of the young actor Abraham Attah. The creative team worked up a mock cover using that image of Abraham and we went from there. It was so helpful from the get go to understand their vision and have what that wanted communicated to me so clearly. I had been wanting to do some moody portraiture and this was the perfect opportunity.
How did the idea to utilize the gutter come about?
I can’t speak to how the use of the gutter came about but Cindy or the CD over at WIRED UK came up with. We had always planned to photograph each person individually and piece together the cover but the use of the gutter was entirely the idea of the art team. I love that opener so much.
How difficult was it to schedule the shoot and how much time did you have?
The shoot was difficult to schedule and the time frame was incredibly tight. Although this is the case on most shoots this one was especially tough to pull off in such a small timeframe since we needed more shots in order to fill out a cover story. We had the guys for about an hour, although I think it ended up being closer to 45 min. I got there about 2 hours early to scout and set up. When I know I have a tight time frame I walk through the space with my assistant and map out a game plan. If we all know where to go next the shoot can happen a lot more smoothly. Since we set up a mobil studio and 5 environmental shots we needed to move quickly though each.
How much did you direct them in terms of styling and on set?
I directed them a lot. Since we knew what we wanted for the cover it was just matter of portraying that clearly to them. I tried to fit as many environmental shots as I could in our tight timeframe and knowing what I wanted out of each location was key. My assistant and I tested out positioning when we were setting up so I had those in my mind when I approached each location.
What type of energy do the two of them have that you were trying to portray?
Both of them were pretty quiet and reserved. They seemed to get along really well and have a very close relationship. Stripe is an incredibly successful company and the brothers are very young so we wanted to show that confidence and strength.
Are they aware of their impact and did that come through while you were interacting?
Honestly they were both a bit distracted the entire shoot. They are both clearly very busy so they were on their phones a lot answering emails. Despite their tight schedule and heavy workload we were able to accomplish a really successful shoot.
The thing about shoots like these is that it takes so many people to make it successful. Without my assistant, Cayce Clifford and the Photo Director, Cindy it really could not have happened the way it did. We ran up and down flights of stairs testing out each location and at least 40 min fine tuning the lighting for the cover.
Art Director:Jarret Einck Associate Photo Editor: Holly Pruett Photographer:Gabriela Herman
Heidi: Was this your first shoot with the magazine?
Gabriela: It was my first shoot for Better Homes and Gardens and I felt like it was such a good fit for me based on many previous garden and flower stories I’ve shot for Martha Stewart Living.
How long were you at the garden?
We went down to the Naples Botanical garden where this was shot and had a glorious, (and sweltering!) 3 days documenting all the different varieties of water lilies.
What made this shoot stand out for you?
Besides just learning everything about water lilies and aquatic plants which I knew nothing about, one thing that stood out for me was meeting Danny Cox, the aquatics specialist at the garden, and seeing someone so young have such passion for his plants. “Water lilies are the sexy part of water gardening” he’s quoted in the article saying. While still in high school he got a part-time job at the garden and got obsessed with water gardening, went on to get a degree in environmental studies and now oversees over 300 water lilies on the property.
How did you get so close to the delicate flowers and manage the variety of bloom times?
I loved getting in waders and walking through the different ponds to approach the most prized lily. Some were only knee-deep, but a few we were up to our waists while shooting. It was also nice to have the luxury of time for this shoot to be able to approach the flowers at the exact time of day when they would be open to their fullest and the lighting would be best, including the night-bloomers which we caught early morning.
How did hurricane Irma effect the garden?
The story is actually kinda bittersweet, because a few days after we left, the entire garden was completely destroyed by hurricane Irma. I believe after much cleanup and recovery, they were able to open the garden back later that fall, but the President noted that it would never look exactly the same as it did before the hurricane. The power of photography becomes even more evident in a scenario like this, where through these images, the garden as it once was can be remembered.
Design Director: Gail Bichler Director of Photography: Kathy Ryan Photo Editor: Stacy Baker Art Director: Matt Wiley Deputy Art Director: Ben Grandgenett Concept by: Declan Company/Pablo Declan Props: Pink Sparrow Photo Illustration:Jamie Chung
Heidi: How many people collaborated on this cover?
Jamie: The New York Times Magazine hired Pablo Delcan to concept the story. Then the prop make by the company Pink Sparrow. Then it was my turn to make Pablo’s sketches come to life. In addition to the camera work I also handled the retouch. New York times designer Ben Grandgenett came to set, we worked on tailoring the photography to meet his layout ideas. Photo Editor for the Times, Stacey Baker produced the project, overseeing the whole process.
Was the process long?
The entire project from concept to printed magazine happened super quick- one of the exciting things about a weekly magazine.
What was the most creative obstacle for the cover?
We shot the cover image with a variety of lighting scenarios and a various backgrounds. Ultimately we picked a clean, minimal treatment. We shot a stand in arm/ hand for placement and shadow, then the final robot hand was created in CG- I love it when the process and concept align.
How many options did you shoot?
For the cover image there was 14 options, but some of the variations were slight- like bottom jaw on/off, little rotations, background tones, etc.
Creative Director: Robert Festino Photo Director: Jennifer Dorn Deputy Design Director: Jennie Chang Managing Art Director: Cheyne Gateley Photographer:Art Streiber
Heidi: Were you star struck? Art: Going in, I was a bit concerned about Gaga’s star power and how that might manifest itself; we were shooting in her garage, on her terms, and I really didn’t know which way the shoot would go.
But from the second she introduced herself (hours before we started working) wearing sweats and no makeup, I was immediately put at ease. She was phenomenally collaborative and as she perched and balanced on a 4-foot wooden stool wearing 4-inch stilettos, her team said nothing…allowing her to move, pose and perform for the camera.
What stood out for you for this shoot?
This shoot is really an excellent example of the power of editorial photography and how great imagery can result from just one light, a backdrop and an endlessly giving subject. It’s so easy for us to get sucked into a “more is more” workflow and I have to remind myself that sometimes, all you need is one light…and no fill.
Did you always see it in black and white? Yes…I always saw this in black and white. And after taking to her about how she wanted to approach the shoot, stripped down, simple and unadorned, it confirmed my feeling that rendering the images in black and white was the right thing to do.
What was the conversation on set about? After Gaga stepped onto the backdrop, it was really all about the photos. Our give and take was effortless; she’d lead and I’d make suggestions, then I’d direct and she’d tweak my direction. Then she’d make a move and I’d ask her to adjust. Over the course of our shoot she took two breaks to take a look at the monitor, review what we’d accomplished, and improve on what she’d done.
You have an enormous body of celebrity work, what made this one different? What made this shoot different and unique was how Gaga performed for the camera, how much she gave, and how she continued to push and explore for 40 straight minutes. The bottom line is that Gaga cared about making great photos.
How did the concept for the shoot come about? Two weeks earlier, we had photographed Bradley Cooper, his DP, Costume Designer, Production Designer and his Editor, and we were supposed to have photographed Gaga with that group…but she was sick and didn’t make it. We photographed Cooper and his team on a Schmidli backdrop, in black and white with a single light source. Creative Director Robert Festino, Photo Director Jennifer Dorn and I were going for a 70’s-rock-band-group-shot look…a la Fleetwood Mac. So…we had the “one light on a grey backdrop” look in our back pocket two weeks later when we were set to photograph Gaga.
We arrived at her house in Malibu, not really knowing what direction the shoot would take. Variety was featuring her on the cover and I thought we had to go “big” and “glam”. We walked the property and considered photographing her with one of her horses. But ultimately we landed on just sticking with the backdrop and it was Gaga who suggested that she just wear one of the shirts that Bradley Cooper wears in the movie…and a pair of knee-high stilettos.
Did you feel you were shooting her character or her? No question…I was photographing Gaga, but I was photographing that day’s incarnation of Gaga. My feeling is that her character in the movie is as close to “Stephanie” as she gets when she’s in front of a camera. When she’s photographed, she takes on a version of her persona; she decides what she wants to wear and how she wants her hair and makeup done…and that’s it. About 25 minutes into the shoot, after looking at a few images on the monitor, she turned to everyone and said, “I’m going to go get a hat…I’ll be right back.” She returned with a black bolero which she used as the perfect exclamation point to the rest of her outfit.
Tell us put the image with her finger on her nose. Another collaboration. I asked her to go into a profile and once there, she very slowly ran her index finger down the length of her nose. All I could do was try to keep up.
How much time did you have?
We were told we had an hour with her…but after 20 minutes we had an incredible array of imagery…and we kept going for another 20 minutes. And from 1438 frames I turned in 99 First Selects.
Creative Director: Jim Turner
Associate Art Director: Isaac von Hallberg Photographer:Mario Kroes
Heidi: Was this a personal project you expanded on for the magazine? Mario: Flaunt had contacted me about a week and a half before their due date, asking if I was interested in shooting a story around furniture. I was apprehensive at first, because of the time constraints as well as having to shoot people and furniture together. I love a good challenge though, so I agreed to tag along.
How did this concept come about? The original concept came from Flaunt. The collaboration came about when we started narrowing down the subjects and furniture pieces to use in the shoot. I like to come very prepared, so I spent a good amount of time trying to find references and inspirational images. I couldn’t find a lot though, so I just had a few loose concepts and decided to figure it out day of when the models and furniture showed up in the studio.
The project merges your love of shape/form and fashion. Did the objects drive the direction, or the human form? Definitely both sort of collided the day of. It’s hard to bend the furniture into a certain position, so I tried to find angles and positions that lent itself well to the overall composition.
Did you always see this in black and white? I try to get away with as much black and white as I can. I think for a story like this though, it’s so much better. The simplicity of black and white let the composition and shapes speak a lot more clearly. It would have been too busy in color, I think.
Heidi: What is your association with designer Stella Nolasco?
Erin: The day before Hurricane Maria , my college friend Stella Nolasco called me crying. “Its going to be really bad”. Stella was in Rome to try a treatment for her younger daughter who has asthma. Her Italian husband Sandro and her older daughter Daniella were at home in Puerto Rico. In the months after the hurricane Maria struck. We watched in horror as there was no electricity telecommunications for months. Everyone’s home was flooded, many of Stella’s staff lost everything.
How did the fashion show come about? Stella was able to keep some of her employees working to sew her collection with a generator when she was offered to show at New York Fashion Week to promote Puerto Rico.
The fashion show began with a video by the Foundation for Puerto Rico, featuring islanders rebuilding and inviting mainlanders to come back. The models walked on the runway with a protest sign that said Can’t Say American without the Rican and We Are US Citizens. Without congressional representatives, it was apparent to me that the only way to keep Puerto Rico in the news and the Trump administration accountable was through famous Puerto Ricans posting on their instagram.
Tell me about the message on the T-shirt
When photo editor Jeff Campagna called me to photograph John Leguizamo for the Smithsonian Ingenuity awards, I was so excited. Leguizamo has a one man show which is currently streaming on Netflix called Latin History for Morons. Leguizamo has been an incredible advocate for Puerto Rico and I wanted the photo to speak to his support. I called Stella right away and asked her to design a shirt based on her runway protest sign for him. Leguizamo appreciated the shirt and recently has been using the image for his Instagram and Twitter profile. When we were design students at Drexel University back in the day, I don’t think we would have ever dreamed this up.
You have a deep interest in social issues with your work, how did this develop for you?
I enjoy photographing people who are helping others with their art or their service. It is inspiring to be around creative people who are making art to educate the public and make a statement. I do a lot of pro-bono work for different artists and organizations; sometimes it leads to paid work.
Erin’s Pro-Bono work includes:
The Women’s March
I photographed Pratt professor and artist Gina Gregorio’s wood stenciled head pieces for the Women’s March in 2016. The profits from selling them went to Brooklyn Community Services.
Planned Parents I worked with Michaela Angela Davis and Michelle Willems to do a social media campaign to show PP support for an important and often overlooked issue: accessible healthcare for women of color. The campaign dubbed #LiberatedWoman aims to draw attention to the lack of visibility and care given to minority women’s reproductive health, especially in disadvantaged communities.
Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Foundation I spent a few days at making a photo library to show the clinical work their musical therapists do with their clients. Their therapists work with a broad range of people, including children with autism and other special needs and individuals under psychiatric care.
Resistance Revival Chorus
This is a collective of more than 60 women who come together to sing protest songs in the spirit of collective resistance. As soon as I saw them I approached them to photograph them. There is such joy in their group of powerful women.
Creative Director: Leo Jung Photography Director: Jacqueline Bates Art Directors: Annie Jen and Supriya Kalidas Photography Editor: Paloma Shutes Production Manager: Thomas Bollier
Heidi: What can you tell us about the audio footnotes?
Jacqueline: Our photography issue features very minimal text. We believe photographs tell their own stories, but we also wanted to give readers a multilayered storytelling experience. Every story is accompanied by audio footnotes so that readers can listen to the subjects in the photos and hear from them directly (you can check it out at californiasunday.com). Similarly, at our exhibition At Home: In the American West, on view from 12/6-1/4 at Aperture Foundation in New York City, people can choose to walk through the gallery as is or they can also listen along to the footnotes on their phone, which we think makes for an interesting experience.
How did the photographers come to choose their subjects?
We commissioned 30+ photographers for this special issue, including Katy Grannan, Jim Goldberg, Erica Deeman, Texas Isaiah, Star Montana, Mark Steinmetz and Irina Rozovsky, just to name a few.
For our cover story, At Home, associate editor, Joy Shan, researched each state west of the Rocky Mountains and we looked into interesting, often overlooked, stories and events that were happening there—and how they related to our theme of “home.” We assigned photographers to one of the regions Joy researched, and from there, we gave them lots of breathing room and freedom to seek out stories of “home.” It was exciting to see the stories that came out of these journeys: In the mountains of Utah, we found a mother of four who designed her dream mansion with some help from Pinterest. In Oregon, we visited a woman who lost her house to foreclosure in 2013; convinced she would get the house back, she moved to an apartment four blocks down the street. We caught up with a screenwriter as he drifts between Los Angeles Airbnbs, and, in Seattle, we met a formerly homeless woman who has found stability and privacy in a tiny house of her own. And much, much more.
What made you focus on this particular theme?
With contentious immigration issues, wildfires, and housing prices dominating news cycles, the question of how people define “home” felt more important than ever. We wanted to dive into this subject and explore its complexities and richness.
How many images did each photographer turn in?
It was a range: For the photographers who shot on 4×5 film, their edits were tight (one or two options for each subject). But for others, who shot for weeks and were photographing many people, edits were much wider.
LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHERS
Lauren Angalis Field
Brian L. Frank
Taylor Kay Johnson
Karen Miranda Rivadeneira
Design + Photography Director: Hannah McCaughey Deputy Art Director: Petra Zeiler Photographer:Sebastian Kim
Heidi: Who shot that image for you?
Hannah: Sebastian Kim shot it originally for Interview Magazine. I have loved this image/shoot for a long time; it’s lingered on my mind. Generally we prefer to shoot original art for covers especially when it’s a big star like Alex who is a legend for our readers. The shoot we had scheduled we had to kill sadly as it was going to break our current photo budgets due to travel logistics and all the while we had this big strong image in our minds as the one to beat. Why that image of him for the cover, what spoke to you?
His happy eyes which could be corny were it not balanced by the contrasty grainy tone of it all, plus I am a sucker for a big face (especially such a good one!)
Do you see syndication as a mandatory way forward for most magazines? I see this as a strong trend especially for global publishing companies.
Yes- if we are going to meet our current art budgets we have to do a certain % of covers as stock to save up for the shoots. I’d say somewhere between 3-4 this year are going to be stock as budgets shrink that ratio will shift.
What are you thoughts on giving a shoot a second life?
BIG FAN- I wish I could go back through all the shoots we’ve ever done and pull out a the hidden gems in there that never saw the light of day.
Publisher/Creative Director: Mark Redfern+ Wendy Lynch Redfern Senior Editor/ Music Editor: Mark Redfern
Creative Director: Wendy Redfern Photographer: Ray Lego
Heidi: You’ve shot so many musicians in your life, what kind of photographic responsibility comes along with working with such a change agent in the music scene?
Ray: I am the change agent! My goal usually is to take pictures that have a clear vision, not to take pictures that have been done before by other photographers .
Be persistent and lead by building trust with my subjects and clients. Some times you have to fail to move forward, “there’s more than one way to do things”.
Who, What, Where, When, Why and how is where i start…the uncertainty of change make it challenging! “Adapt or die!”
What type of direction did the magazine give you? I’ve been working with UTR for years and know what they want and what to expect. Knowing its a cover I need to keep it simple with negative space, leave room for text. Kasami was
so intense looking I wanted nothing to distract from that, the sun was blazing and it was one of the hottest days of the year. I wanted the sun to open up every detail in his
afro and beard. The shot looks like it was edited but really it was the electrifying sun playing with the cameras sensor. The magazine picked and mocked up a bunch of cover ideas
and I thought anyone of them would be great.
Since UTR is noted as the only real indie music magazine still around, what did you two discuss between takes? We talked about music Art Blakey+John Coltrane and Eric Dalton. Snoopdog and how he use to play with him, Fist of Fury video game that he played and named a song after. and of course his GOLD superstar Adidas kicks
How difficult was it to shoot on a crowded Canal Street? The Canal street images I shot over my shoulder and never looked though the camera, this makes people walk normal and not stop or duck not wanting to get in the shot etc.
It was over 100 degrees and super humid, that’s why some people have umbrellas and why i think it looks bare. The closer we got to the crossings the more people we attracted,
in the middle of the block was more quite and we only did one pass and done. He was so big the people on the sidewalk would clear out and leave plenty of room, it didn’t hurt that he was carrying a solid wood staff about 4 feet and 2 inches round.
Did you two discuss wardrobe prior to shoot? I read an article where he talks about being a big fan of african culture and the clothes, not being ashamed of being black or connected to Africa.
I told his PR people he should wear what ever he wanted. I thought be looked super cool showing up in a colorful tunic! Super Throwback! He also
had a cane/staff and trying to remember what he said about it, might have to ask PR person. He also had his sax case and the sickest pair of gold Adidas Superstars.
Tell us about the trance shot.
While flashing on set up and the only set up I used a flash ,I noticed that I was putting him in a trance. Every time the flash went off his eyes would roll back and he would be dazed for bit. I stopped using the flash. Not sure if he was doing this as part of an act” and it was never scary just bizarre.
Was that sun flare in the portrait?
Prism Spread: at one point I was shooting through a small prism and the flare and refracting light suited his vibe, it was very uncontrollable and focusing racking all over the place.
Tell us about the inspiration for the ring shot/last spread of the magazine story
Close up of Hand with Rings: His rings on his hand remind of an image made over 20 years ago of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with all of his championship rings that barely fit
one on each finger.
Creative Director: Chin Wang Director of Photography, Print + Digital: Tim Rasmussen Director of Photography, ESPN The Magazine: Karen Frank Deputy Photo Editors: Kristen Geisler, Jim Surber Senior Photo Editors: Nick Galac Photo Editor: Kaitlin Marron Associate Art Director: Linda Pouder
Photographer: Randall Slavin
Heidi: Did you shoot this specifically as a cover or was it an outtake from the feature? Randall: I was asked to shoot portraits at the 2018 ESPYS of 100+ victims of sexual assault who were receiving the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. So I had a portrait studio set up in the green room to shoot the former gymnasts. It was extremely taxing emotionally and creatively as we only had 2 hours to do all of them and i try to make some personal connection to everyone I shoot, even more so with portraits like this.
As I was set up the people from ESPN said “as long as you are set up feel free to try to shoot anyone you can get into the studio.” So before and after my shoot with the gymnasts I was able to pull some people into the studio for quick portraits including NFL hall of famer Jim Kelly, The Villanova Wildcats , and a few other people, and I had seen Odell Beckham Jr. around the green room and with his bleached hair and his black and white Gucci shorts outfit I was aching to shoot him.
I’m not a big NFL fan but I’m a fan of interesting characters. I had told someone who was working the event to try to wrangle Odell into the studio. The night wound down and nothing, the broadcast had ended and the green room was emptying out. I told my crew to pack it up as it had been an extremely long day. We were taking down strobe and packing up lenses when my friend poked her head in and said
“Odell is on his way.”
I hurriedly told my boys set everything back up just as OBJ walked in w a drink in one hand; after quick introductions he stepped on the paper. At first it was pretty normal; then I told him to reach out to me to infuse some energy into the shot. (that was the cover shot) I asked him what his newest tattoo was so he lifted up his shorts to show me the jungle scene on his leg.
He had a new diamond inserted in his incisor so he loved snarling his lip to show me the sparkling cross. When I’m shooting these portraits I get really close to the subject as I’m usually shooting these at 24mm. It feels very intimate and personal. He was leaping and jumping. We only shot about 30 frames but I knew we had something special. and then he asked me for camera, “my turn” he said so we switched places and he took my picture. Odell shooting me leaping and goofing around. Its not usually my vibe but it had been such a difficult day, I was a bit punchy knew Odell and I had just shot something special, so sort of in a way to thank him and not ruin the good energy that we had going I did it. 10 later minutes later it was over and he grabbed my phone put his number in it
“text me these pictures,” and he was gone.
I turned to Alison Overholt and Tim Rasmussen the EIC and photo editor for ESPN THE MAGAZINE with a big smile on my face.
“You know,you just shot our NFL preview cover,” Allison said.
“We have been trying to get Odell to do a cover for us but we weren’t able to make it happen.”
Did you always see this in B/W?
I always intended this to be black and white, I’ve never even looked at it in color!
Creative Director: Chris Nosenzo Art Director: Alexander Shoukas Deputy Photo Editor: Aeriel Brown
Heidi: How did this idea come about?
Victor: We originally shot the story months ago where images of a specific motherboard were potentially going to be on the cover. Bloomberg was able to get ahold of a few chips months after, and we did another shoot after based on an idea with the chip.
Did you cast a hand model? We worked with two employees at Bloomberg who had been casted prior to the shoot day to be the hand/finger models.
Why did you feel it was important for a male finger? I think it was finding someone with a short trimmed nail who was available at the time, so that the emphasis of the cover would be on the chip itself. We tried some cover idea options without fingers like a penny and pencil next to the chip and two different fingers.
Were you looking for any finger print in particular? For the fingerprints, we first weren’t sure of how close the crop would be, and happened after that the crop was to be so up close that the fingerprint is really detailed.
Was it difficult to place the chip? It was a bit difficult to position, and worked with tweezers because the chip was so small, like a speck of dust.
Heidi: Can you share some of the highlights and surprises of your 30 year career? Rick: The highlights that come to mind most easily are shoots with people I admired – Patti Smith, Tom Wolfe, John Waters, Fela Kuti, George Clinton, etc. If your specialty is editorial portraiture – it was called celebrity portraiture for most of my career – then you obviously have to have an interest in the work and personas of some famous people. As I said in the introduction to my photozine Stars, everybody’s idea of celebrity is subjective; these people were a big deal to me. Apart from that, there’s those moments of inspiration, when something you’ve had in your mind suddenly comes out through the camera. There were some photos I took during a stormy day on the lakefront here in Toronto that had been in my mind for years – longer than I’d had a camera. It was as if I had a photo in my head that was trying to get out. That opened up the floodgates for a whole world of non-portrait work that I had no intention of pursuing, really.
What made you revisit these old photos? Frustration, really. I had been applying for newsroom jobs for a few years after I’d been laid off from the paper I was working, and my wife finally said that this wasn’t going to work out for me, and that I should probably find something else to do with my days – a project. She pointed to all my old negatives just sitting in binders on the shelves in my office and said I should see if any of them were worth sharing. That I should set up a cheap, simple blog and post things that looked interesting.
What did you see in them now that you didn’t see then?
I always second-guessed myself when choosing work – I had a hard time finding the best shot, or I’d go for the most obvious, flattering one as opposed to the interesting one buried further down. With years of distance it became easier to find the interesting frames. Also, my skill with Photoshop far exceeds my skill in the darkroom, so I was finally able to produce finished images much closer to what I had in mind when I shot them twenty years ago, like my portraits of Bjork and Patti Smith. Then there are the shoots that I dismissed as flops, or ones from periods of my life that I didn’t recall fondly. I really undersold my portrait work at Metro in the 2000s; it turned out to be much better than I remembered.
The blog got me shooting again; I was doing travel work but I made an effort to shoot portraits. I set up with a really basic lighting kit at a skinhead night at a local club that a friend was promoting and did a sort of photo booth – anyone who wanted to get their picture taken just had to sign a release. It was very DIY, very punk rock. A while after that the Texas outlaw country singer Kinky Friedman came to town – I’m a fan and I talked him into doing a portrait session. Then I talked another friend who had an entertainment and movie website into having me shoot portraits again at the film festival in 2016 – it had been eight years since I’d shot at the film festival, which was once a big deal for me. I had stripped down to the basics trying to find a way back to the portrait style I had in the ’90s, and the shoot I did with British actress Rebecca Hall was the moment I felt like I had my stride again.
What would you tell your younger self? Don’t shoot weddings. I’m half serious about that. I’d probably have told him not to be so cheap, and to go out and shoot more often – do work that isn’t assigned, that doesn’t have a paycheque attached to it. Some of the most popular work I posted on the blog – my Fela Kuti portraits, a portrait of writer Jay McInerney that ended up in the New Yorker a couple of years ago – were done on spec, and never published until the blog.
What advice do you have for new photographers? Shoot, shoot, shoot. Also, are you doing this because you want to be “a photographer” or because you want to create images? Because it’s harder than ever to make a living doing this, while it’s easier than ever to take photos, to make them look the way you want, and to get them in front of an audience. You just might not get paid for a long time, if at all. Photography now is a lot like punk rock, which was my first big cultural moment and inspiration – everyone can form a band or make a record now, but you have to worry more about what you want to do and not the audience you want to have, or how big they are, or if the mainstream industry will accept you.
In a few works, describe how the industry has changed and how you changed with it?
Editorial portraiture, which was my bread and butter, seems to have very nearly disappeared. I’m not sure what’s replaced it, if anything has. It’s so much easier to distribute images and find an audience than it was when I started. Back then, you had to have an assignment for a newspaper or a magazine, or publish a book, or show in a gallery to get people to see your photos. Now it’s literally as easy as a couple of taps on a phone. That’s revolutionary, though I’m not sure if there’s a revenue model to match it yet. Maybe there might never be one. I don’t know. I do know that my photos have longer life out there in a digital ecosystem than they ever did on fading newsprint, or sitting in my negative binders or hard drives.
Heidi: Athlete shoots can be notoriously short, how much time did you get with the talent?
Christopher: Not always short. Depends. In this case we were supposed to have an hour to set up and an hour with him. We probably could have gotten that but PSG PR was completely disorganized and seemed not to have even briefed him properly nor prepared on their end. I was quite shocked, frankly. Hence no set up time which is the most ridiculous part of it was we were kept in a holding room, no chance to scout the area or set up until moments before he arrived. I am used to shooting fast but having no chance to set up or understand the space where the shoot will happen is crucial. My advice to photo editors and producers would be negotiating the set up time for the photographer is even more important than the amount of time you negotiate with the subject.
Since he’s a rising star, how did you direct him?
I quickly showed him a photograph I had made of Ronaldo and explained that I wanted to shoot him as a human being, not an object and that it needed to be a collaboration between us. I talked to him like a thinking person and said that, yes, I hope that he looks good in the image but if the image didn’t feel real, no one will care about it or remember it.
What was his reaction?
His face changed and he got into it.
Do you remember the first time you had a shoot where the timing suddenly got cut down to minutes? If so, what was your reaction then, and what is your reaction now?
It happens all the time. Too many times to describe them all here. The main thing I have learned is to always trust yourself and what you do. Know what you want from an image going in. That doesn’t mean to be so planned out that you can’t react. I am talking about knowing what you want an image to be about. For me it’s about authenticity. I stay focused on making a real image and I don’t get distracted or rattled by the time or the “tricks”. Never panic