Gillian Guess & A Secret Weapon (Maureen Willick)Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I had the fun assignment to photograph juror Gillian Guess twice and for the same magazine, Saturday Night. The first time around art director Barbara Solowan sent me detailed faxes on what she wanted. They amounted to one thing, "Alex shoot it the way Vanity Fair would." For the shoot I had two secret weapons, one was a powerful ring flash that I used for the December 1998 cover. The ring flash did a special number on Guess's cat that made him look spooky.
The second secret weapon was stylist Maureen Willick with whom I have had the pleasure of working for many years. For the first Saturday Night shoot all the clothes and shoes (and those red ones) were brought in by Maureen and she only allowed Guess to use her fake Gucci sunglasses.
By the time the second assignment came along the classy Barbara Solowan was gone and I had to communicate with a young female photo editor who told me, "Alex I don't want styling or makeup. I don't want any special lighting. I want a documentary look as if you were a fly on the wall." The point was to show Guess wearing her special ankle bracelet with which the authorities could keep track of her movements. When I told my wife Rosemary of the assignment she said, "Hire Maureen and you pay her out of your pocket." This of course was standard advice from my wife, the best, as always.
I shot the picture here with extremely fast film and the only light used came from a bulb over the bathroom mirror. Originally, I had the idea of taking pictures of Guess watching TV, with my camera to one side of the TV. But it was Guess who suggested shaving her legs in the tub and Willick and I looked at each other and immediatekly agreed it was a great idea. Willick styled the shot (note the black bra on the toilet seat and the fake leopard coat hanging from the shower curtain and the slippers. But Willick may have gone too far. A book she placed on the bathroom book shelf was retouched out by Saturday Night. You can see what it was in the original photo below.
I am happy to report that in the beginning of March a new collaboration with my secret weapon (Willick) will see the light of day. More about it then, here.