Morris Panych And Bert Stern's Gary Cooper
Monday, April 03, 2006
In the early 50s, US photographer Bert Stern convinced the folks at Smirnoff Vodka that the driest vodka martini would have to evoke the dryness of a real desert. So Bert Stern went to Egypt and took the famous photo of the martini with the Great Pyramid of Giza as a background. Stern initiated the trend of photographers going around the world with big budgets all in the name of authenticity.
That era and the budgets are long gone but I always have in mind Stern's ability to distill any portrait into an essence. When he was assigned to photograph Gary Cooper in the role of Western hero in the heels of his staring part in High Noon
, Stern chose to photograph him in a coat and tie and used the gun as the essence to convey the idea of the Western. In this portrait Stern shows what so few photographers are able to do well and this is the perfect white background. Whenever I take portraits I invariably put myself in Stern's shoes. Here is my take on Morris Panych the director of the Arts Club Theater production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.