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….

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