Five Subjects You Dream About Photographing

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.

5 thoughts on “Five Subjects You Dream About Photographing”

  1. No who for me, but what (shocker, I know)

    -Gold Coast, Australia
    – A safari
    – Candian Rockies
    – Yosemite
    – Seattle
    – San Francisco

    Just to name a few, anyway 🙂 cool blog!


  2. This was tougher than it first seemed because of the reasoning behind shooting each subject. I had to keep reminding myself why I would choose them in the first place. Anyway, here’s my list:

    ACTOR – CLINT EASTWOOD. He’s simply been the essence of cool for decades. His face alone tells a million stories and shows the life he’s lived. I’d prefer to do the shoot ‘Esquire’ style where we’d meet at an Irish Pub first and have some Guinness while Clint regaled me with clever anecdotes about life. (Although, Crispin Glover is a great call here, Luke)

    MUSICIAN – DAVID GRAY. Other than being my favorite musician, he has a great sense of style (he wears 3-piece, bespoke suits during his concerts) and he’s a very private and scandal free celebrity. I think these characteristics would all make for a revealing and intense shoot.

    PHOTOGRAPHER – CHASE JARVIS. I realize he isn’t an iconic nor historically relevant photographer yet, however, his diverse portfolio and shooting style inspires me. He also seems like he’d be a pretty cool guy to hang with.

    AUTHOR – SALMAN RUSHDIE. This guy has to have a set on him to knowingly write a book that would cause nearly every fundamentalist Muslim to wish him dead and the Ayatollah himself to to call for a fatwa against him. His intriguing and strong personality would really be evident in the images produced from a shoot with him.

    ATHLETE – LARRY BIRD. As a HUGE Red Sox fan I was leaning toward a current player but, for me, Larry Legend is my favorite athlete of all time. No other reason than that.

    I’m sure I could easily come up with 100 more people but these are the people who immediately come to mind when I think of who great subjects would be for me to shoot, personally.


  3. My response:

    Instead of generating a list I think it’s more pertinent for me to say that I dream of keeping my photography afloat at this point in time. At this early stage in my career I’m hitting a point where I have no choice but to back off photography to some degree in order to handle other situations that need my attention.

    As an emerging photographer I can say that when I’m facing the very likely reality of needing two jobs to also help support my early endeavors and get through personal issues the fact that I’m taking a few steps back in order to take a bigger leap forward is starting to sink in. It’s not that I’m hanging up the cameras entirely, its more of a true test of my commitment to being a photographer and how bad I really want it.

    And to not go totally off topic, I think for me to say that ‘I want to photograph this place or that person’ isn’t enough. I’ve accomplished several of my goals already and I believe that I will do whatever it is I want to do.

    I just have to pound salt first.


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