All photographers have their own way of bringing out the best (and sometimes the worst) of whomever they are attempting to capture in time. In the case of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, whose studio is located in his cozily imposing home (a neo-gothic, former German Roman Catholic rectory in New York City), it has always been to make the subject feel at ease. Facades are lifted. Trust is estab- lished. Friendships are either forged or reinforced. Synergy is created.
For Greenfield-Sanders’ latest project, “Supermodels of the 70’s and 80’s”, the all-essential synergy originated with Timothy’s longtime friend and colleague, legendary hair stylist Harry King, who had recently decided to have a reunion party involving long-time fashion friends, all of whom are now in touch via Facebook. Dropping by to pay his respects, even the notoriously jaded Greenfield-Sanders, (who once said, “I’m missing a re-run of Law and Order for this?”) was impressed by the turn-out, which included a who’s who of 1970’s/1980’s Supermodels. Did I mention they all still look amazing? Before you could say “Vanity Fair”, Greenfield-Sanders set up a dual NYC/LA shoot for that publication, featuring Carol Alt, Kim Alexis, Karen Bjornson, Christie Brinkley, Nancy Donahue, Kelly Emberg, Esme, Dayle Haddon, Patti Hansen, Beverly Johnson, Lisa Taylor, and Cheryl Tiegs.
What transpired on both coasts was a delicious reunion of now legendary ladies whose looks and personalities have for decades represented the pinnacle of editorial and advertising. Everybody candidly caught up with each other while being seamlessly transformed into modern public personas, all by the same artists who helped create their original images in the first place.
Both shoots featured Harry King’s classically innovative haircuts and styling on each of his “girls” (as they delight in being called, at least in regard to Mr. King). Make-up master Sandy Linter and Vogue/Mirabella fashion stylist Jade Hobson, added invaluably to the mix. Greenfield-Sanders shot two separate group portraits and then “Photo-Shopped” them together. For the pose, Irving Penn’s famous 1947 fashion model group portrait was the starting point. Timothy even dragged in an old ladder from his upstate New York getaway shack, to add to the mood.
Never one to leave a great idea undeveloped, Greenfield-Sanders also shot individual portraits of each model, using his 8×10 Deardorff, Kodak color 160 NC film, and his trusty Pro-Photo bi-tube and Elinchrome Octaback. In addition, he hired a two-person video crew to document the entire event, including interviews with each model. A feature film about these women, and the period itself, should be on air by the summer.
I remember seeing these ladies individually long ago at Studio 54 and environs, and wondering where they would be and how they would look at this stage of their lives. Having now seen them up-close, sans make-up, in the a.m., I can truthfully say there is not one scary face in the bunch. (I, on the other hand, got the face I deserve, dammit!).
America’s poet-laureate Mark Strand once said about Greenfield-Sanders’ work, “It’s as if they (his subjects) were caught between realism and glamour, between the brute fact of their features and the elusive aura of their fame”. Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ Supermodel portraits perfectly reflect the progress, not just of time but of wisdom, that has made each one of these unique women even more astounding. You go girls!