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Posted by on Jul 22, 2013 in Blog, News, Photography | 25 comments

Douglas Kirkland Took my Portrait. I still cannot believe that it actually happened!

Douglas Kirkland Took my Portrait. I still cannot believe that it actually happened!


I was thrilled when  American Craft contacted me with an invitation to be featured in their magazine. They assigned  Joyce Lovelace to do the interview and it was great. We talked for several hours in my studio. Joyce has one of those beautiful smiles that you can never forget. So authentic and warm. We instantly connected.

american craft cover

American Craft is a printed magazine, but you can see a digital version of it here ↑

Then, Mary K. Baumann from Hopkins/Baumann, who is the creative director of American Craft Magazine, gave me the news that Douglas Kirkland had been assigned to do my portrait. Here I had to read the e-mail more than twice to make sure that I was understanding right. Douglas Kirkland? The living legend who did the famous photographs of Marilyn Monroe with the white silk sheet? ↓

Marilyn Monrow by © Douglas Kirkland 


Here are Douglas and  Marilyn in 1961 ↓

douglas kirkland and marilyn Monroe

The photographer who was able to capture rare images of Coco Chanel smiling? ↓


Below are some famous portraits by Kirkland. The list is endless ↓


John Lennon by © Douglas Kirkland 


Brigitte Bardot  by © Douglas Kirkland 


Andy Warhol by © Douglas Kirkland 


Elizabeth Taylor by © Douglas Kirkland 


Audrey Hepburn by © Douglas Kirkland 

Sophia Loren-1

Sophia Loren by © Douglas Kirkland 


Jack Nicholson by © Douglas Kirkland 


Michelle Williams by © Douglas Kirkland 

By now you understand why I couldn’t believe it. Douglas Kirkland taking the portrait of a little woman born in the internationally unknown city of Holguin, Cuba ? All I managed to do in the middle of my shock/surprise/excitement was write back to Mary K. and say thanks a lot for such an honor.

What followed was me being a bit concerned about disappointing such an extraordinary photographer. At this point in my life I don’t look anything but regular with short curly hair, tired eyes and a few extra pounds. I sent a recent photograph to Mary K. who at the same time sent it to Kirkland and his wife Francoise and they confirmed that they wanted to do the portrait.

“Beauty isn’t just the flashiest most perfect face. It’s the mind and the warmth and what is projected from someone; man, woman, or child. I love creating beauty, finding it and showing it to the world in the most positive way.” –Douglas Kirkland.

The words above come from an interview with Kirkland. They showed me that behind this remarkable photographer there was a real soul. I stopped worrying. So, two days ago, this past Saturday, Douglas Kirkland, his wife Francoise, their assistants and Diana Barton (Diana needs her own separate post, she did my hair and makeup) came to my house. It was magic.

Douglas and Francoise

Douglas Kirkland and Francoise Kirkland ↑

As soon as I saw Douglas and Francoise I felt as if I had known them for a long time. They are literally one of the most down-to-Earth, real, solid and talented people who I have ever met. They gave Bill and I the book below. Imagine my excitement.


I don’t have any final pictures to share with you yet, but I can tell you about the experience.

Something that touched my heart was that while Diana Barton was doing my makeup, Douglas spontaneously took a few pictures of Natalie and Diego in my studio. I wasn’t there to see it, but I saw some of the shoots on Douglas’ camera. He immediately connected with the kids and that was so special. I believe that Douglas himself is a kid at heart. As always, anytime I meet someone special, I can see the child within him/her, and that’s what I experienced with Douglas and Francoise. Even though they’re extremely experienced and have seen more than the average person, they are as fresh as a young couple ready to discover the world.

makeup with Diana B

Diana Barton and me, taken by Bill with his cell ↑

Once I was ready to step in front of Kirkland’s camera, everything happened naturally. He has something extra, a warm energy, a simple, human  approach to his creative process that makes you feel instantly comfortable and energized at the same time. As an artist I felt fascinated by his creativity. Even though the portraits were simple, he had a unique way to introduce special touches here and there. If you’re a portrait photographer and are reading this, I would like to say that the work you do is as creative as painting on a blank canvas. A portrait is not a simple image captured by a camera lens, but a reaction between the artist that holds the camera and the subject. That reaction is key and it is what gives a soul to the image.

I will end this post with the promise of sharing images when I have them. The magazine with the feature (and probably truly yours on the cover) is coming out sometime in Sept-Oct of this year. This was a wonderful experience and the beginning of a new friendship. The Kirklands and us will continue to stay in touch. We are all excited and looking forward to our next getting together.

Happy Monday!

Elsita 🙂

UPDATE: Hello! You can see the magazine with my portrait on the cover here.


Here are Kirkland’s words hand lettered by Kaiva Narbute :




  1. Elsita! Wow wow wow!…what an experience!…( and much deserved, I might say! ) xo Kerin

  2. Oh my goodness!! What an incredible honor….and what a wonderful reminder of what true beauty is. This is a message I am constantly trying to teach my 2 girls (12 and 13). Thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to see the article!

  3. Congratulations Elsita! It sounds like it was an amazing experience. I’m looking forward to seeing your portrait.

  4. Elsita, congratulations! It sounds so great, can’t wait to see the pictures. Thank you for introducing to so great talent as Douglas Kirkland. I am sure the pictures will be great, even I think that shooting portraits is very challenging. Kaiva

  5. Elsita, WOW!!!!!! I cannot WAIT to see your portrait! Thanks so much for sharing the story and all the photos, they are amazing. You go, girl!!!!

  6. How exciting – I will look forward to seeing your gorgeous photos! Congrats!

  7. How exciting! I will have to pick up a copy of American Craft to check out the photos and article! I’m sure he felt just as honored to photograph you, as you are one special artist!

  8. Oh Elsa, what an honor! And so deserved by YOU!! Please let us know when the magazine is available!! I so look forward to reading the article and seeing those wonderful photos! Again, congrats!! <3

  9. I’m sure your creative soul and warm heart will shine through as it does throughout your website. I can’t wait to see the results!

  10. How wonderful! Your art is so beautiful, this honor is well deserved. Muchas, muchas felicidades.

    Un abrazo de otra cubanita,


  11. Elsa! How exciting! I am just so happy for you, and can hardly wait to see the photos. Jan

  12. Oh my gosh. I was so excited and had tingles in my arms when I read this post. What an absolutely wonderful experience. It is so reassuring to know that good things come to those who wait and put the effort and love in. I am honestly so happy for you Elsita. It is a privilege to be virtually friends with you. xxxxx

  13. Too cool!

  14. Such an wonderful story. Being photographed by such a well known and great man AND being on the cover of American Craft is like winning the lottery….twice!!
    Congratulations and I cannot think of anyone so deserving of such an honor.

  15. My goodness Elsa. You continue to amaze me. I’ve been MIA from this blog for a while and so happy to come back and see the good news. Now we are all WAITING to see those photos!!!

  16. “a little woman born in the internationally unknown city of Holguin, Cuba”…although this is an important part of who you are, it’s practically the last way I would think to describe you, dear Elsita.

    I’d imagine the honor of meeting one another was mutual, that he was as stirred by your presence as you were by his. You bring something rare to this world, such a cultivating touch, so much beauty coming from that unknown city in Cuba…

    … how wonderful that people everywhere will have a greater chance to get to know you. To me it makes perfect sense, so good to see something like this happen…

  17. Congratulations! I look forward to getting a copy of the magazine. You deserve this recognition and more for all your hard work and beautiful creations.
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