A great by-product of photographing someone more than once is that if a comfort level is established during the first session a deeper, more rewarding experience can occur at future shoots. When I first photographed Sally Bedell Smith for Vanity Fair (in 2002) it didn’t take long before we were on our way to a lovely friendship. I was immediately taken by her warm, engaging personality coupled with a reporter’s keen awareness of humanity. These attributes, of course, are of tantamount importance to one’s ability as a biographer and Sally was already established as one of the best. I’ve always hoped those same traits could be in steady use by this portrait photographer, albeit one called upon to put said qualities into use in a highly condensed version of ‘writing’ a portrait.
When Random House was ready to publish Sally’s new book, Elizabeth The Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch (the definitive work on Queen Elizabeth) Sally, Nina, my crew and I collaborated for a third time and because of our prior work together things went really well. I wanted to be respectful of both the author and the subject through the appropriate setting, lighting and pose; but what one always hopes for is to find something that goes past the obvious and offers a glimpse into the person behind the talent.