Here’s a riddle: What do Michael Jordan, John Waters, Woody Allen, Julia Roberts, Yo-Yo Ma, Cindy Crawford and Billy Sheahan have in common?
Answer: We’ve all been photographed by Marc Hauser.
It’s always fascinating to be photographed by another photographer. The tables are turned and it makes me positively giddy to be on the other side of the camera.
Amp up the level of giddiness when the photographer is someone with a history like Marc has.
I so seldom have a photograph taken of me. So I decided to hire Marc to make my 2011 photograph.
Walking into his studio on the West Side of Chicago this morning, there he was, wearing his eyepatch, big as life, sitting at a large table going through prints that are part of his ever growing portfolio. He best embodies the phrase Harrison Ford once mumbled in one of the Indiana Jones movies – “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.”
His two assistants, Sarah and Brit made me feel welcome as they set up the lights and camera, tethered to a Mac, so we could quickly review the shoot. I sat down at a nearby table and began to carefully go though a portfolio of some of his most famous images, all original silver gelatin prints. So many images I have seen over the years, and now I was carefully holding them in my hands. Just beautiful.
Always the salesman, “We’re having a sale on those. $200 instead of $500,” he offered. Tempting, as I looked at the John Waters print in my hand.
I walked around the studio, which is a gallery of sorts. Photographs I’ve been aware of for decades. If Marc’s intention is to allow you to soak in what he’s done over the last forty years, so when the time comes for you to get in front of the camera there’s no question who is running the show, it works.
Marc also has a reputation for suddenly yelling while photographing you, to get a reaction. Anything beyond the usual smile. As I took my place and he adjusted the camera, I was prepared to do whatever he wanted. Marc works fairly close to his subject. I like that. It keeps you in the moment as a subject.
I know that’s what I prefer when I’m the photographer. Sometimes I have to be further away if I’m shooting a full length head to toe photograph, but I prefer a shorter lens rather than a telephoto when shooting a portrait. Too much distance makes the connection suffer.
For this shoot with Marc, nice and close. Good connection.
Turn your body to the light.
Put your head down.
Bring your head up now.
Put your arms in front.
Now really lean in.
There it was. The Hauser yell. All I could do was laugh. It’s what I do. It’s what he does.
After the shoot, we all went through the several dozen images looking for the one. We settled on the leaning forward one.
“That will be a good square image,” Marc said.
I agreed. I had to laugh. It kind of reminds me of the giant Monascheiwan round shouldered creatures from The Fifth Element.
I feel as a photographer it’s good to get in front of the camera once in a while, so I don’t forget what it feels like.
It felt good this time.
“You know I have my own mustard?” Always the salesman.
“Yeah, over on the counter.”
So I also bought a jar of Marc Hauser’s Special Reserve Smoky Garlic Mustard. Five bucks.