Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Photo God / Feature for Esquire

A few months ago I got a phone call from PE Michael Norseng at Esquire. He wanted to know if I was free to shoot a portrait of Francis Ford Coppola. It was the first time that Esquire had called me. Um, yes? Who wouldn't want to shoot FFC at his Napa Vineyard? Esquire has a rich history in photography and design (George Lois Esquire covers now on display at the MOMA....), and I have always hoped to be a part of it. Yes Mike, I will drop everything and get to work on that immediately.

So.....I turned the job down. My wife and I were due to have our second child that week. There was just no way that I could safely commit to the shoot date. Which was a bummer. (The job part, not the having a kid part)

Oh well. Mr. Norseng understood, and said that he would call again.

Sure enough, a few months go by, and he calls again. My belief in a photo god is restored. This time it's to shoot a portrait of Dr. Warren Hern, one of the last living doctors that has the skills to perform complex late term abortions. The other abortion doc George Tiller had just been murdered, and Hern was next on the Pro-Lifers' hit list.

The shoot was insane. Between having no time to scout, Dr. Hern's busy schedule and intense personality, and the incredibly tense environment, made even more tense by six US Marshals partrolling the office (which is enclosed in bulletproof glass), I was starting to feel a bit panicky. I wanted to hit this one out of the park, and I could see these things working against me. Then Mr. Norseng calls to tell me that the story has been upgraded to a feature. Which was amazing, but had my head spinning a bit, since I had been thinking about shooting a single portrait.

In the end, I just took a deep breath and everything went well. We made an image of Dr. Hern as a prisoner in his own clinic (above) that ran as an opening spread in this months issue, some still lifes of the clinic, and another portrait of him at home. John Richardson also wrote a beautiful article that captures Dr. Hern perfectly. Many thanks to Justin Walker for all the great help on this one! Here are a few more from the shoot:


Anonymous said...

He sure seems like a likable fellow doesn't he? I wonder why no one like him (except people who think babies aren't people too).

jared said...

Sweet job Jamie. Got your email forwarded from Darren on the Pitcher shot too! NICE!