Interview & Photos by Jimmy Steinfeldt
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 7/20/17 –
Jimmy Steinfeldt: How often do you clean your lens?
Greg Gorman: Before every shoot.
JS: What photographers influenced you?
GG: Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, Hiro, Avedon, Irving Penn, George Hurrell obviously.
JS: Who else influenced your photography?
GG: Greek and Roman sculpture in terms of my esthetic for shooting nudes. Light and shadow played an important part in establishing my style.
JS: What was your first camera?
GG: Back in the 60s I was using the school’s Honeywell-Pentax with a screw-on lens. The first camera I bought I think was a Minolta SRT101. Then I got into shooting with Hasselblad for most of my career. I also used the Fuji 6/7 a lot. Now I shoot primarily with the Canon 5D Mark IV and the Sony a7R II.
JS: Tell me about the transition from film to digital.
GG: I was a late bloomer to digital because I always thought (Photoshop) was a good excuse for poor photography. My first experience with digital was with point and shoot cameras, which I really enjoyed. However the Professional Digital cameras at the time offered so few pixels. They couldn’t come close to what you could capture with a medium format film camera. It wasn’t until Canon came out with the EOS 1Ds, which had serious information in the files, that digital made sense. This was around the year 2000. This is about the same time I started playing with Photoshop, which was being used by all the studios to finish the Major Motion Picture Campaigns I was shooting. Also around that time many of the great papers and films that I used to make my silver gelatin prints were being discontinued because of supply and demand. This made everything more difficult. I began to realize that I shouldn’t fear all this new technology but rather embrace it. We were actually just witnessing the traditional face of Photography changing as it had evolved previously with Daguerrotypes/Ambrotypes/Glass and Wet Plate Processes and even with Silver Gelatin/Platinum Palladium Prints and so on and so forth.
JS: Tell me about the photos you did for movies.
GG: I did a lot of photographs for movies though not a lot of on-set photography. I did special photography for motion picture campaigns, such as ‘Tootsie’, ‘The Big Chill’, ‘Scarface’, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, ‘Hurt Locker’ and the like-probably over 200 in all!
JS: Is there anyone that you would like to photograph?
GG: I really wanted to do a project with Brigitte Bardot. As a youth I always thought she was the cat’s meow. She’s amazing today given that she was the world’s biggest sex symbol back in the 1950s. She’d be the number one person I’d like to photograph as she is today in her environment-very documentary style. I think it could be a very fascinating commentary on life given the number of “Miracles of Modern Science” we see today in terms of their wretched use of plastic surgery!!
JS: What advice would you have for a young person who wants to pursue photography as a career?
GG: Find another job (laughs). Everybody’s a photographer today. They’ve all got an iPhone and Photoshop to prove it. It’s pretty sad, the whole synthesis of photography. Today most people don’t know what an exposure is, an ISO, a shutter speed or an F-Stop or how to even capture the moment. Now everyone relies on everything being so automated. They really lose the true essence of photography. They may have a good eye but if you were to ask them how did they take this picture, they would be very hard pressed to tell you because frankly they wouldn’t have a clue in the world.
When I teach I keep everything on manual and don’t allow shooting on automatic. Again it would be difficult to make it today as a professional photographer. That’s why I spend the bulk of my time in education and teaching workshops worldwide. That really keeps my passion alive and isn’t that what photography is really all about? If I had to start all over again in today’s world I’d probably start off in wine making which is what I spend a lot of my time doing now.
JS: I look forward to tasting your vino someday. Just a couple more questions starting with what’s next for you Greg Gorman?
GG: I’m working on a big book project called ‘The Outsiders’ which is my cutting edge stuff from the beginning of my career. I’ve got like 260 boxes in cold storage that I’m starting to go through. It’s crazy but fun seeing photos I haven’t seen in more than 40 years. I published a book last year called Greg Gorman Private Works:2000-2015 which is a collection of my male portraits and nudes, which was my 11th Monograph.
JS: Where can I point readers to learn more about you?
GG: http://www.gormanphotography.com/ There you will find information about my photography, workshops, and my wine.