Interview: Greg Gorman Author of FRAMED: Greg Gorman for l.a.Eyeworks

FRAMED: Greg Gorman for l.a.Eyeworks

Photography by Greg Gorman

Grafiche Damiani

For 30 years, photographer Greg Gorman has made an artful,
hip spectacle of artful, hip spectacles with his portrait images for l.a.Eyeworks’ legendary ad campaign, now featured in the new book FRAMED: Greg Gorman for l.a.Eyeworks. We talk eyewear and icons with Gorman. 

Shelf Unbound: Starting with Paul Reubens as Pee-wee Herman in 1982, you’ve shot more than 200 celebrities and personalities for the l.a.Eyeworks campaign. How do you approach photographing a film icon like Lauren Bacall versus a literary figure like Armistead Maupin? 

Greg Gorman: The approach is very much the same. I work to gain the confidence and trust of the subject and to connect with them in such a way that we become a team, collaborating together to make a great photograph. I spend a lot of time studying each person during makeup to observe the angles of their face as a path to finding the right adjustment for the lighting and the pose that I think will really capture their personality.

Shelf: I particularly love your photograph of Boy George. It well represents what I see in many of your images, which is a quality of being simultaneously intimate and enigmatic. Can you tell us a bit about that photo?

Gorman: Thinking of the notion that eyes are the window to the soul, my goal with that shoot was to create a portrait that was intimate but also kind of heroic. George is so iconic in the world of music – choosing that gaze of looking upward with a kind of divinity just seemed to fit.

Shelf: Does putting eyewear on a subject influence the shoot in any way? I’m thinking it might be liberating for the person being photographed.

Gorman: Yes and no. I suppose if the subject is wearing sunglasses it can be liberating in some way because there’s a shield of sorts. When the glasses were clear, however, it sometimes took some convincing to get into the shot. But in either case, the goal of capturing the subject’s personality in the photograph is always the challenge.

Shelf: Your favorite photo in the book?

Gorman: The portrait of Andy Warhol, which I shot shortly after he signed with Ford Models. I had already been shooting covers for his seminal magazine, Interview, and I thought it would be such an amazing opportunity. That the portrait became one of the most iconic of my career is pure pleasure.

Shelf: Whom would you like to shoot for this campaign that you haven’t yet photographed?

Gorman: Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Stephen Hawking. 

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