Portraits of rap stars and a Golden Boy
Sometimes people's reaction to, to these different cameras, I always enjoyed photographing American rappers and hip hop people. And when they would come into the studio and they would take a look at my four by five camera, you kind of fully extended, with a periscopic viewer on the back. The would kind of like ooh, this guy must know what he's doing with this big camera. (mysterious music) I think they were very well behaved with me. I think because of the whole set up and the way that I set up to photograph them and the way I treated them when they came in. With great reverence. So I think the rappers and hip hop people that came in to the studio were really, you know they felt it was a special experience to be photographed with me, by me. And they liked the whole experience you know of that. I think there's a, a nice story about how sometime to use and eight by 10, my use of an eight by 10. Actually with a standard lens on an eight by was a well known shot of mi...
ne called Golden Boy. The interesting way that shot came around. I was actually shooting a campaign for the Gap. And a lot of children. This child came in who was actually a five year old child came on to the set. And was the most beautiful, angelic child with this thick, black, wavy hair. I was photographing him and he just looked so beautiful that I actually went up to the mother afterwards and said is there any chance that the child can come back at the end of the day. I'd love to do a portrait of him and she said yes. She said but I have a job and his uncle will bring him by and I said that's fine. And then I politely asked the child is it all right for me to take another picture. And he was quite shy and said yes that he would come back. So back he came at 5:30. I had finished shooting at five. And I set up in the studio. I kept the makeup artist there. I just got this idea. To be honest I don't know where it came from. And I set up an eight by 10 camera. With a standard lens and because it was a child, I had already measured the child before he left the studio. His height when he was sitting down. I set up this small stool for him and I set up a headrest. 'Cause with eight by 10 focus unfortunately is crucial. And I set up a headrest for him so he would put his head back against the headrest. So I knew the focus was good. Because I had a feeling and I was right. That I would have to be because it's a five year old child, I would have to be really quick. I asked him when he arrived, I'd like to do some spray paint on him. And I spray painted my hand to let him see what it was and I said is that all right? And I said just close your eyes. I actually sprayed him with this golden spray. The reason for this was he had this jet black hair. And I actually wanted to kind of turn him into a blonde. Not for any odd reason. But just for the reason of texture and pattern that was in his hair. So I sprayed his hair this kind of silver gold. You have to be careful with spray paints. When you spray people gold it sounds nice but sometimes people can look really awful with gold spray paint on them. It sounds nice but it wasn't. My plan was always to do it in black and white and then reintroduce the gold color into a print. So I set it up with a standard lens on an eight by 10. And I knew that this was going to give me a slightly odd optical loop to his head and face. And was going to do something slightly surreal which was what I wanted. I went ahead and set him up. I did three Polaroids actually. And kind of took the Polaroids. I didn't wait to process them, I just did the Polaroids. And went ahead I had already done a test to make sure I knew the exposure was good. And did the exposures and I did four frames. I quickly did the fifth frame. And he suddenly looked at me and said can I go home now? The face never ceases to amaze me. About how the face of a child or an adult or you know almost any human being. The amount of emotion that's running across that face at any time can really be remarkable. In the case of that shot of the Golden Boy, the child after looking almost like he was, it was a shot of Alexander the Great about to conquer Asia or something like that with that kind of confidence. It was very interesting after four frames. That the child suddenly realized that the entire focus of attention was on him. And that he was the object. He suddenly, his face just completely collapsed. He was on the edge of crying. Of course at that point there's no going back. You reassure him and when he, he did kind of start to almost cry and say can I go home now? Of course immediately you let him go. But the facial breakdown of him when he went from this kind of strange, beautiful confidence, almost surreal confidence. To almost a nervous breakdown. Happens in the blink of an eye. And that is one of the remarkable things that you can watch for when you're photographing, you're doing portraiture. That you can be watching, watching, watching. Just how that emotion is there. And in fact one of the great things that I try to work with. A lot of times, fashion photographers are usually concerned with the imagizing of the fashion and how fashion works in a picture. The graphics, the composition, how the clothes are sitting and so on. And sometimes even with body language, they're very concerned fashion photographers with body language. But the one thing that they very often miss is the emotion in the face. And of course sometimes you know models who are fantastic models sometimes have a little bit of difficulty when it comes to acting. And capturing emotion. I think reportize photographers when they travel the world and you think of a Steve McCurry, the way he's working, he captures people. But he has tremendous observational skills of people. And not only body language but also facial geography. And that's something that comes really with just experience. So once again, always stay switched on. Even if you're doing a commercial job like the Gap that you can, you know with a little bit of paying attention, you can turn it into something quite special. (mysterious music)