A list obsessed friend of mine posed a question to me the other day.
“Not to improve your career, but because you found them interesting or fascinating for some reason – Who would you photograph if you had unlimited access?”
Some may find it an obsessive cliché or an overly active homage to High Fidelity, but I think it is a great question, and a revealing one at that – What makes a photographic subject appealing to you? These sorts of wish exercises are an interesting window into the mind of how different photographers think. They are also a great way to generate ideas without the self-imposed limitations that a lot of photographers use as excuses to not pursue their visions. So often when you think about who you want to photograph without limits you inevitably start thinking about how you would photograph them without limits – why not start taking some of these great concepts you are dreaming up and applying them to your commercial or personal work.
Here is my top five list. I’ve spread the categories out to not make it too genre-centric.
Actor – Crispin Hellion Glover
Most know him from his appearances in films like Back to the Future, Willard, and River’s Edge. Others may know him from a particular incident involving David Letterman. What some don’t know is that Glover is also a surrealist film director, musician, author, and performer whose artistic endeavors are often financed by his more mainstream and commercial work. Glover is one of the most aesthetically interesting actors to have worked on-screen in decades and I find his work fascinating.
Musician – Mike Patton
A musician who found both mainstream success for his work with Faith No More as well acclaimed response to his more experimental works like Mr. Bungle – I cannot think of a musician that I find more photographically and musically appealing over the years than Patton – both for the wide-ranging body of work he has produced with his immense vocal range and for his constant experimentation that allows him to move from rock icon to avant-garde composer and back again effortlessly.
Photographer – Rodney Smith
This one is easy – Rodney Smith is one of the photographers whose work made me want to become a photographer. I could easily say the same about Nick Knight, another photographer Whose work I adore, but I find that I come back to Smith’s work more and more over the years.
Athlete – Wayne Gretzky
All right….. fine…… I’m a Canadian boy who loves hockey….. not even gonna make excuses for this one. Gretzky is a living legend and would easily be #1 on this list if I was ranking it.
Author – Warren Ellis
A tough one as so many of my favorite authors are dead. Thompson, Bukowski, Hemingway, and Baudelaire are all dead and gone. So I am delving into the world of comics to pull out the one writer who tops my list of authors I would love to photograph (It’s my list and I will damn well do as I please) Ellis‘ writing on titles like Transmetropolitan and Planetary delves deep into science, philosophy, metaphysics, transhumanism, and some of the most well crafted humor I have ever read. His blog is a must read – and he is far less photographically terrifying than Allan Moore.
Who is on your top five list? Feel free to make your own list and share it in the comments.
The only rules – They must be alive and you can’t use the same category twice.