Putnam Valley Man Photographs Celebrities, Ordinary Folk for Red Cross

Putnam Valley man photographs celebrities, ordinary folk for Red Cross By BARBARA LIVINGSTON NACKMAN THEJOURNAL NEWS (Original Publication: April 28, 2007) PUTNAM VALLEY – Timothy Greenfield-Sanders has taken photographs of world leaders, glamorous models and X-rated movie stars from Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic to Heidi Klum to Jenna Jameson. Now, he has turned his professional eye to the Red Cross and its cadre of unpaid soldiers by taking shots of celebrities with ordinary folk – all volunteers for the relief agency that responded to nearly 75,000 disasters last year. The new publicity campaign – with photos displayed in magazines and on billboards – is an effort to add to the more than 1 million people nationwide who already give their time to the Red Cross and help in emergencies, teach lifesaving skills and find ways for those serving in the military and their families to stay connected. One recent example is the Red Cross role in provldlnq flood relief to Sound Shore residents. Greenfield-Sanders, 55, who has a studio and apartment in Manhattan and a home on Lake Oscawana in Putnam Valley, admits that his involvement with the Red Cross stopped at giving blood. That was until he set up a studio in a tent outside New York’s Fashion Week to take shots of supermodels and stars in designer duds. A conversation with actress Elisabeth Rohm, a Red Cross spokeswoman who grew up in Bedford and once starred in “Law & Order,” got the two thinking about a collaboration. “It was a chance to work with celebrities and real people – and watch that chemistry,” the photographer said while sitting at his dining table thumbing through his photography books for a visitor and glancing at the sunshine reflecting off the Putnam County lake. When here, he doesn’t really take photographs, but he likes to sit in his yard, canoe on the lake and spend time with his wife of 30 years, an attorney, and two grown daughters. Volunteer Arturo Guzman, 56, art teacher and chairman of the religion department at Sacred Heart High School in Yonkers, said it was a thrill to cozy up with actress Marcia Gay Harden for a photograph in Greenfield-Sanders’ East Village studio. “We are two people from completely different backgrounds – the Bronx is really the center of the universe – but we came together for the same common goal of helping people,” he said. “She was hysterically funny with lots of off-color jokes, but basically we talked about her kids and my teaching. ” Guzman had been a longtime Red Cross volunteer whose commitment lagged until the 9/11 attacks, when he realized he was needed. He heads three Disaster Action Teams in the Bronx that respond to local emergencies. “There is nothing like the feeling after a major fire when you can find someone’s lost cat or help a pregnant woman get temporary housing,” he said. Greg Amato of Carmel, disappointed he was not a participant in the photo shoot, is nevertheless a longtime volunteer. A former Carmel police chief, he heads a Putnam County disaster team and said more volunteers are definitely needed. “It would be better to be able to spread the tasks around and not have to always call the same people,” he said, noting that Putnam has about a dozen regular team members. “But we are ready and glad for any program that might inspire others.” The campaign enticed Bedford resident Paul Shaffer, a former honorary chairman of the recruitment campaign, to lend his familiar face. “I’m so glad they asked me again to be part of this campaign because the Red Cross, ever since I can remember, has been at the forefront of disaster relief. We need them now more than ever,” said the music director of “Late Show” with David Letterman, who posed with Greenfield-Sanders for a photograph taken with the help of a time release mechanism. Greenfield-Sanders, though not a household name, was quite a talent for the Red Cross to attract. His portraits are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. His name appears on the masthead of Vanity Fair magazine. In 1997, he produced and directed “Lou Reed: Rock and Roll Heart,” a documentary about the rock musician that aired in the PBS “American Masters” series and premiered at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals. It won “Best Long Form Music Video” at the 1998 Grammy Awards. But other people know Greenfield-Sanders for making “Thinking XXX,” a film about the making of his 2004 book “XXX: 30 Porn Star Portraits” featuring photographs of dressed and undressed skinflick performers. Also included were essays by such writers as Nancy Friday, Salman Rushdie and Gore Vidal. The real stars of the latest campaign, he said, are the volunteers, famous and ordinary. “Taking pictures is all about the person,” he said of his usual shots with neutral backgrounds and few props. “This was about helping people help others. Can’t get better than that.”