Rhinecliff, NY Editorial Portrait | Joan Juliet Buck

th many editorial photography assignments this one came as a fairly last minute request. Contact Ms Buck’s publicist and see if you can arrange a portrait, oh and we need the images in a week. OK…

After a bit of back and forth regarding the schedule with her people I was told that she could meet me at her office in Rhinecliff. Ok, good, with logistics out of the way next comes the what kind of portrait do I want to do question? I had read that Joan was a former editor for French Vogue magazine, not a small feat as she was the first American to do so. So with that in mind I did some image research on her and was a little knocked out by how many great photographs have been done of this powerhouse. I did not want to redo a shot that had been done, but honestly I just wanted to do her and her story justice and worry less about how unique my image was. For the most part I rarely try and sensationalize my subjects, but rather I try to give dignity and weight to their positions. So my first thought was to play with the idea of a woman who was at the top of the food chain and was now living a smaller but in some ways a more honest lifestyle. Her story is a very interesting one, please go to this month’s Chronogram Magazine book section to read the story written by Sari Botton. While she may have traded her former digs for more modest ones the woman is still every bit of a superstar, so how to illustrate that? I thought she should be shot against a dark background, but I wanted to also show her in her new space.  So I set up a narrow roll of black paper in her office and lit it simply with a small umbrella. But I backed out the camera enough to see that were in her office, a set within the set as it were. I originally was going to do this as my only shot, but I then thought let me do some closer images. The thing about people who have experience sitting for photographers is that they have a natural self assurance and confidence which translates to striking portraits, the eye contact is very direct and sharp, no bullshit. Joan looked great up close so I shot a few frames, but not many really, maybe 10-15 total. I was pretty sure that my original framing was what I wanted to really go with. Joan looked over the images that came up on the computer and she agreed she liked the pulled back versions as well. Once back at the office though I processed out the files and actually loved both compositions, I loved the pulled back images because of what they were saying, but the closer images were captivating. Her gaze was strong and confident. So I showed both sets of images to the art director and he went with both on the story. YEA! I love these portraits.

Thank you Joan for making time for me and I hope to see you again.

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