I remember meeting Joe Jasgur many years ago when I lived in Florida. For those of you who don’t know who he is, he is the guy who first photographed Marilyn Monroe in 1946 when she walked into his studio with no money but she wanted to be a model and he saw her potential and photographed her. The rest is history. I would go over to Joe’s house and we would look at all of the old photographs he had taken over the years. He would tell me stories about some of the celebrities and his relationships with them. Some of these photographs were so iconic and here I was sitting down talking with the man who created them.
He wasn’t my mentor and he didn’t charge me for his knowledge of the industry. We became friends and just shared a passion for photography. We both loved creating beautiful imagery and working with people who like to be in front of the camera. It really is a fun profession and I believe he felt the same way. I moved back to California in 2005 and Joe passed away in 2009. There was a long legal battle over the rights to the images he shot, but you can google that if you wish to know more. What I remember is the passion he had for his work. And when I say passion I don’t mean that he would act all overboard and outlandish and brag about his work. He would talk about the people he photographed, not their persona, but who they really were.
If there was one thing I learned from Joe it was about making a real connection with people. Even when I work with actors or models, I like to know who they really are. The connection is so important to me when I work with someone. Without that connection the images just seem to lack sincerity and are just not as powerful to me. But when you create a connection you also build trust. And when people trust you, and you have a connection with them, magic is what seems to follow.
I know I have a passion for photography, and for anyone who has read this blog over the past couple of years will know that. But what I am finding is that I also have a passion for people. Not so much people in groups, but in individuals. When I work one-on-one with people I really get to connect with them and get to know them. I really believe this is what helps me create some of the images I create. My work isn’t always about me or them. Sometimes it is about us and the relationship we have inside the lens.