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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2000-11-21
Leading Off: My Friend Jamie Lee Curtis
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter
I usually don't spend my Saturday mornings this way, but here I was a couple of weeks back, trying to break into the carousel building on the Santa Monica Pier with Jamie Lee Curtis.
Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today
Now most of you are probably thinking right about now "name dropper" but actually what this column is about is my secret to great portraits.
The assignment was really a no-brainer. How can you go wrong shooting a beautiful actress like Jamie Lee Curtis (her striptease scene in "True Lies" with Arnold Schwarzenegger is unbelievableand she's not even naked) in early morning light on the beach?
Jamie Lee wanted to be photographed riding on the carousel, but as a Mark Miller one of USA TODAY's picture editors found out, it isn't easy getting someone to open it up at 8 am on a Saturday. For that matter, we couldn't even get someone from the Santa Monica Pier to call us back.
So here I am, running around the carousel building with Jamie Lee peering into windows, climbing stair cases outside the building and banging on doors all in the hopes of trying to get into the building so we can photograph her on a merry-go-round.
But Jamie Lee was undeterred. And determined.
Portrait photography is people photography and I've found through the years, that when a subject WANTS to make a nice picture, your job is to just sit back and watch what happens. It doesn't matter if it's your local dog catcher or a famous actress.
You can have the latest strobes and the fanciest digital camera, but if you're subject isn't "into it" you're in for a long day or 20 minutes, whichever the publicist is willing to give you.
Jamie Lee showed up EXACTLY on time and from the moment she leaped out of her car, she had the smile going and a near endless rap.."how you doing?" "what's your assistant's name?" "how long have you worked for USA TODAY?" "how are we going to make this something nice?"
Her publicist said on the phone a couple of days earlier she'd only have about 20 minutes for the shoot because of a book signing down in Orange County. And the clock was ticking.
Finally we gave up the ghost on breaking into the carousel building and I motioned for my assistant Robbin Goddard to start setting up at our backup locale a coin-operated telescope in front of the penny arcade.
But all the while as we walked down the pier, Jamie Lee's eyes were scanning the pier for "some place cool" as she said, to make her picture. As the sweat started forming on my shaggy head and face (I had started a goatee a few days before) both of our eyes settled onto a small child's carousel ride in front of the arcade.
Jamie Lee turned and looked at me and we both smiled. Yes!
But in the back of my mind I knew that someone, somewhere would come out of screw this up, so I had Robbin quickly start unpacking the portable lights as I began to get my Hasselblads ready.
Jamie Lee by this time had hoped onto one of the tiny horses on the ride and was figuring out poses as she looked at my gear and commented: "So you like the square format of the 'Blad instead of rectangle on the Mamiya?"
I glanced up and she continued, "I've played around with the 'Blad and the Mamiya, but I still love my Leica M6."
Just after shooting a couple of Polaroids and then two frames, two of the arcade workers came out to tell us that no photography was allowed near the arcade and that "big people aren't allowed on the kiddie ride".
And that's when Jamie Lee REALLY went to work. She hoped off the ride and asked the workers who she needed to talk to have her photograph taken and within a few minutes, she had rousted the owner out of bed and was chatting a mile-a-minute on a cordless phone. About 90 seconds later, she gave us the thumbs-up and we were walking back to the ride.
"We need to shoot some more Polaroids so I can give them to these guys," she smiled.
By the time we resumed shooting, a crowd had gathered and Jamie Lee didn't seem to mind at all. After shooting for 20 minutes, she chatted and shook hands with many fans and autographed 5 Polaroids.
She was late for her book signingthat's for sure. But Jamie Lee wanted to make a good photograph and thank God we were along for the ride.
* * *
A few housekeeping items:
- A big Sports Shooter thanks to Sarah Orr, Kevin Sullivan and Prof. Brad Shirakawa from San Jose State University. Last Thursday they arranged for me to speak at their weekly NPPA gathering where I had a helluva fun time. A lot of work goes into arranging speakers to come into the school to talk to students and then make a presentation and these guys do a great job.
- On Dec. 1 I will be conducting a workshop on sports photography at the annual Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar. I'll be talking about the recent Sydney Summer Olympics and also will be ranting about the problems with sports photography and what I suggest we can do to improve it. For more information on the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, go to their web site at: http://www.photojournalism.org/workshops.html.
- In this issue we announce our annual Sports Shooter Contest. The deadline will be midnight Super Bowl Sunday. The contest is only possible with the kind and generous support of Nikon, Penn Camera, Roberts Distributors, LowePro USA and a new Sports Shooter supporter, Samy's Cameras in Los Angeles.
- Sports Shooter can always be accessed via the web. Each issue is supplemented with many images and put together by Sports Shooter archives curator Brad Mangin. To check out this and all of the previous issues, go to: http://www.manginphotography.com
Please check out the Sports Shooter Forum, which is hosted by RobGalbraith.com. I will have posted a few topics from this issue for readers to comment on. You can access all of the RobGalbraith.com Forums at: http://www.robgalbraith.com/cgi-bin/Ultimate.cgi?action=intro.
We have an ACTION-PACKED issue of Sports Shooter for November with articles ranging from the serious (credentials and rights policies) to the humorous (XFL cheerleader tryouts) to the informative (Mongo's Christmas gift guide).
Brad Mangin writes about Mickey Pfleger who recently got bowled over at a 49ers game; Andy Kuno gives us his take on the recent XFL cheer leader tryouts; USA TODAY's Managing Editor for Graphics and Photography tells us that blindly accepting that credentialcan be a dangerous thing to do and John Mabanglo answers a few questions about the new Canon D30.
And of course, as we always say here at the big Sports Shooter offices we have "much, much more!" (Try getting that much FREE information and entertainment from "News Photographer" mag!!!)
So sit back, adjust the brightness on your monitor turn down the "X-File" (Mulder's not back for another two months) and enjoy our special Thanksgiving issue of Sports Shooter!
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