Well, Andy, himself, would shoot candid portraits with his SX-70 for
his big silk screen portraits. He would make big screen negs from the
Polaroid image and then he and his assistant, Ronnie Cutrone, (long since a
very big name in painting in NYC: See the lobby of the Saatchi building)
would choose the colors for each of the screens. I usually sent prints to
clients via messenger or via the least busy of my assistants but the goings
on at the "Factory" were always so interesting that I took every opportunity
to drop off the prints myself. They were on B'way and 17th and I was on
19th between Park and B'way so a 2 1/2 block walk. Often I saw Andy
standing over a big silk screen frame in his standard uniform; Brooks
Brother shirt, narrow tie, blue blazer, denims and either sneakers or penny
loafers. On his knees either loading the screens with paint or swiping the
squeegee was Ronnie under Andy's direction. Andy introduced me to Basquiat
one day when I was delivering prints. As I said, you could always count on
something interesting going on there.
Yes, we did expend a lot of effort to get the "look" we wanted. I
am happy that you feel it was successful. The portrait sitting is, no
matter how one tries to make it otherwise, a contrived situation. Therefore
much is necessary to distract the subject from the contrivance and from
their self consciousness in that contrived environment. The biggest (and
most enjoyable trick) is to find a way to get your subject to light up from
inside. As mentioned, I would do pre-shoot research and then chat and
listen in the dressing room to get material to use to get them talking and
thinking of things other than their immediate (photographic) environment.
If you can manage that, it is just a matter of following their mood swings
and shooting the options.
Of course I loved the lighting and photography of the shoots but the
most exciting part for me was to get something special and different from
the subjects. I recall doing a guest lecture and slide show for Tom
Drysdale's NYU photo students when one student stated that none of the
celebrities in my photos looked at all like the usual images that she had
seen of each of them. I replied that I was highly complimented...I had
achieved my goal...to show something new and intimate about each of them and
not merely photograph, yet again, the standard "faces" that celebrities are
so good at showing the public.
That career/business/art form in NYC is for the young. I am glad I
did it and I am glad I survived it.
From: Judy Seigel [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 10:25 PM
Subject: RE: Pittsburgh
On Wed, 26 Mar 2008, BOB KISS wrote:
> DEAR JUDY,
> Yes, mine were shot in my (former) loft studio on 19th between Park
> and Broadway. INTERVIEW hired a stable of photographers including Albert
> Watson, Bill King, Barry McKinley, me, and many others. The celebs would
> come to our studios for hair, make-up, and styling (choosing clothing &
> accessories) and then we would shoot. I had the time to chat with them
> add some personal knowledge to the info I had gained by doing background
> research on them before they arrived. This gave me material to use to get
> them to chat, relax, and open up in front of my lens.
Obviously, those casual, "candid" portraits take a tremendous amount of
effort and planning. (What they really need is a Photoshop plug-in that
does it all for you. Heh Heh !)
The effect, if I'm remembering it right, was very stylish, cool, arty.
(Andy Warholish maybe? Or was he copying you? Or just something in the
> I would then print a 16X20 black and white print of the shot that
> Robert Hayes (managing editor) and Bob Colacello (Publisher) had chosen.
> would give it to Richard Bernstein who would make a large Photostat of my
> print and do his multimedia magic on it; airbrush, hand brush, color pens,
> grease pencils, rapidograph, and color acetate overlays. These would then
> be, in the early years, shot with a screen process camera, and in later
> years, scanned.
If nobody said it they should have: being natural takes a tremendous
> Ah, reminiscence! Those were "high times" indeed, but I must
> confess that, at this stage in my life, I am right were I want to be.
Lucky man ... how many folks can make that statement?
__________ NOD32 2976 (20080326) Information __________
This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus system.