Richard Avedon

Late in 1993 I rented my studio to Richard Avedon for several days as he photographed a number of people who had worked in Washington during JFK’s administration.

Meeting ‘Dick’ (as he insisted I call him) was a true injection of adrenalin, and listening to him interact with his subjects was a crash course in photographic etiquette. His demeanor was as precise and commanding as any person I had met, and his way of caressing his subjects with soft chatter and loving charm belied his total accuracy of intent. Razor-sharp instincts and copious amounts of 8×10 Tri-X gave him the fuel to tackle even the most reticent.

When his three assistants took over my studio for the next day’s shoot, I was privy to the simple but rigid set-up procedure that was a hallmark of the Avedon ‘look’. This begs the obvious question about the nature of formula in photography; but in Avedon’s case, said formula allowed for the underlying purpose of the final image to reveal itself without technical confusion or constraint. Just before midnight I was put into service as the test subject and held onto the 8×10 Polaroid.

Though this image is not quite from the hand of the master it’s as close as I would ever get to being photographed by Avedon.

4 Responses

  1. Mahmoud El-Darwish

    Max. That picture of you is divine! A true Avedon. I had the pleasure of his signature on my copy of “In the American West” when it was on exhibit at Corcoran years back. Charming person and wow! those images….

    1. Annie Houston

      Max, that portrait captures your amazing, sexy, accessible, handsome self! I love reading your blog.

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