A couple of months ago, I was approached by Mary Washington University’s Alumni Magazine to shoot the cover and 2-page inside spread of acclaimed New York City Beat Poet, Hettie Jones. The editor and I spoke at length about Hettie’s reluctance to be photographed and that even though I was being hired to do the assignment, she was not certain the piece would even run. Ah, a challenge! How do I win over Hettie and make her not only feel good about being photographed, but also have her look good. I was fortunate to schedule a call with Hettie and we had a great chat. She told me straight out that in all the years of being photographed, she’s hated pretty much every photo of her and much prefers being photographed on the street with her bicycle from afar rather than up close and personal. I mentioned that for the cover and inside spread how some nice environmental portraits of the artist in her workspace would really drive the piece home and and she agreed. It also worked out that she scheduled me to shoot on the same day as the writer would be visiting so as not to demand any more of her precious time.
I felt honored to have spent the afternoon with Hettie and thankfully she not only enjoyed the session, but she very much liked my photos. In fact, she told me that I’m the second photographer to ever have photographed her in a way she felt flattering. That was one of the best compliments ever and I felt I had done my job and risen to the challenge. Check out the magazine cover here.
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