By Bill Dobbins
Greg Gorman is a celebrated photographer of celebrities. And much more. While I’ve always been aware of his celebrity portraits, what else impressed me about his photographs were the shots he did of bodies – including but not limited to muscular male physiques.
Back in the day, I was working for Muscle & Fitness Magazine – a publication hugely interested in male and female athletic physiques – and publisher Joe Weider asked me for suggestions for big-time photographers he could recruit to contribute to the magazine. In particular to shoot covers.
As a photographer for Weider Publications, I shot a lot of aesthetically muscular bodies and therefore paid a lot of attention to other photographers who created the same kind of images. So it is not surprising that Greg Gorman was one of the first names that came to mind when responding to Joe Weider’s request.
Unfortunately, since this is a “family” blog I can’t share with you the Greg Gorman photos that most impressed me, since many are nudes – very artistic, BW images, worthy of being exhibited in galleries and museums, but nonetheless not appropriate to get a “G” rating.
You can see them for yourselves by searching on Google or Bing images.
But, that is hardly all that Greg Gorman is known for. He is without a doubt a celebrity photographer par excellence and a list of the famous people who have sat for his camera in the past four decades constitutes a pantheon of the best-known celebrities, musicians, actors, sports figures and other icons.
Greg Gorman did not set out to specialize in photographing the famous. He studied photojournalism in college but got involved in shooting rock concerts in the late 1960s and that eventually lead to his becoming a premier celebrity photographer. His best-known subjects include actors like Sophia Loren, Johnny Depp, Al Pacino, Hugh Jackman, Grace Jones and Leonardo Di Caprio; musicians that include Michael Jackson, David Bowie and Elton John. Sports figures like Michael Jordon. Directors like Martin Scorsese.
As well as being widely published editorially in magazines, working for fashion and advertising clients, Gorman has also published a number of photo books, which allow his fans and admirers to access to his collected works on the printed page rather than just pixels on an electronic screen.
We live in an age of celebrity and the emphasis our culture puts on the famous is growing even more pronounced. The definition of celebrity is “somebody who is famous for being well known.” Photographers like Greg Gorman help people to get famous and stay famous. A great still photo has been known to register in the mind and stick in the memory far more than a host of snapshots or fleeing TV coverage. So, those in the business of creating and growing celebrity reputation have a great need for photographers with the skill of a Greg Gorman.
After decades of shooting celebrities and projects like major movie campaigns, in 2006-2007 Greg Gorman found himself losing motivation to continue this kind of work. “Styles had changed,” he says, “art directors were asking me to shoot types of images I didn’t really like and were outside my comfort zone. The subjects I photographed have always trusted me to do the most flattering photos of them I was capable of and when I could no longer be sure of being able to do that I started to lose interest.”
But Gorman had always had a passion for teaching and communication and so he began to turn his attention to doing workshops – workshops that take place all over the world.
“It was great,” he says, “because I got to travel and to interact with students – who sometimes taught me as much as I was teaching them. Plus, no longer facing the same grueling schedule of commercial work I started doing more personal photography and got to pursue topics and subjects that were of interest to me rather than some art director.”
In addition to workshops, Gorman is continuing to publish books of his photos and in fact has a new publication available:
GREG GORMAN PRIVATE WORKS 2000-2015 MAY BE PURCHASED @ WWW.GREGGORMANPRIVATEWORKS.COM
Greg Gorman, a photographer of enormous accomplishment, is in the midst of pursuing a new chapter in his career. He is committed to teaching photography while, at the same time, continuing his efforts as a photographic artist. For a real change of pace, he is also an accomplished wine-maker.
Of such accomplishments are legends created.
“Thanks so much to Samy’s Camera for choosing me as the subject of this blog post. For those interested in knowing more about me, here is my online info.” – Greg Gorman
Bill Dobbins is a pro photographer located in the Westwood area of Los Angeles. He is a veteran photographer and videographer who has exhibited his fine art in two museums and a number of galleries and who has published eight books, including two fine art photo books: