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 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 ↓
The photographer who was able to capture rare images of Coco Chanel smiling? ↓
Below are some famous portraits by Kirkland. The list is endless ↓
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 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.
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.
UPDATE: Hello! You can see the magazine with my portrait on the cover here.
Here are Kirkland’s words hand lettered by Kaiva Narbute :