May 31, 2017

How to photograph a celebrity.

From "Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002)," the new David Sedaris book, this entry from May 5, 1994:
As part of the publicity I’m doing for the book (Barrel Fever), I was interviewed and photographed for Avenue magazine. The talking part I’m fine with, but I hate having my picture taken. First the photographer had me pose with Dennis (my cat) while wearing a cat mask. Then she had me pretend to hang from the antlers in the living room. Next I was told to close the louvered doors on my neck and then to hold my freeze-dried turkey head up to my nose. Just as she was running out of film, the photographer said, “Can we try something silly?”
That made me remember I wanted to promote this book Chris Buck sent me, "Uneasy: Portraits 1986-2016." It has 338 photographs of celebrities — including one of David Sedaris (that's not from 1994) — often photographed in some odd, quirky way.

For example, there's Billy Joel sitting on the end of a bed holding one of those theater "applause" signs, there are separate photos of Moby and Ike Turner doing that old little boy's trick of positioning a finger to make it look like his naked penis, there's Margaret Atwood pushing the side of her face and outspread hands against a screen door (photographed from the other side of the door), Casey Affleck lying on a table pushed into the corner of a gaudily wallpapered room, Russ Meyer burying his face in cake shaped like 2 breasts, Philip Seymour Hoffman half-hiding behind underpants hung on a clothesline, and George McGovern wearing just a Speedo and (apparently) doing the twist. Much more!

I recommend it highly, having looked at all the pictures and admired the great variety and the gameness of the celebrities. Since they are mostly not actors and models but writers, musicians, and politicians, people who haven't spent their lives figuring out how to look interesting, it takes some ingenuity: Where can you put them, what can you say to them to try to get a photograph that will affect us in a way that has something to do with who this person is?

18 comments:

David Begley said...

Sedaris should hire Kathy Griffin's photographer. Tyler something.

johns said...

Years ago I was being interviewed about an article I had written predicting that housing prices would rise in California but fall in the rest of the country. The reporter had me climb onto the roof of my house to show that I was expanding my home because I was confident of my prediction. Two months later the California housing market collapsed.

rhhardin said...

Igor Stravinsky photo by me, 1963.

Leica F, Tri-X

readering said...

George McGovern is great. Too bad there wasn't one of him posing that way next to Nixon in a dark suit.

traditionalguy said...

I went to sleep last night listening to Sedaris, thanks to The Professor's heads up. He is an amazing person. And then NPR had him interviewed about the new book this afternoon, altough I couldnot listen to it all. Amazing day.

Later this afternoon CNN let us know Trump had beheaded the Paris CO2 Religion and all the world was going crazy. That brought to mind Jackson's statement that he killed the Bank ,of the United States' evil power before it killed him.

And then at Wednsday night Supper we were singing There is Power in the Blood. All I could see was the Progressive's new Bloody Trump Head icon. Bloody deaths today, but the World
Government's and not ours. Amazing day indeed.

JML said...

I was going to say something flippant about not caring about celebrity pics, but clicked on rhhardin's link. Great shot-captures him and his environment. Thanks for sharing.

Saint Croix said...

Ike Turner

and you can't unsee George McGovern

Saint Croix said...

Tom Waits

Jay Z

Jay Bear said...

I wonder if Mdme Althouse is a regular listener of "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross? David Sedaris, like other occasional topics of her blogging, was the subject of a Terry Gross, "Fresh Air" interview today. Good interview, as usual, and an interesting man too.

Saint Croix said...

Bryan Cranston and Jon Hamm

Saint Croix said...

not sure if that Tom Waits photo is his, actually

Saint Croix said...

grumpy cat lady

(estimated net worth $100 million)





Bill Peschel said...

It wasn't until I visited his site that I realized he was the one who sandbagged Michelle Bachman on behalf of Newsweek.

Darrell said...

I just bodyslam photographers and reporters. You should, too.

rcommal said...

... Since they are mostly not actors and models but writers, musicians, and politicians, people who haven't spent their lives figuring out how to look interesting, ...

Huh. How 'bout that.

Laslo Spatula said...

"How to photograph a celebrity."

Having them get naked almost always works.

I am Laslo.

Titus said...

I don't have any interest in anything about celebrities.

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