During last night's Oscars, Natalie Portman had a genuinely touching moment in her acceptance speech. She talked about the "people who never get thanked publicly", and then proceeded to list their names and contributions. Everyone thanks their partners, agents, costars, directors, mothers (rarely fathers, by the way), children, husbands, dogs, etc. But what about the people behind the scenes, making you look great every day? You may thank them personally, but rarely do they get a public shout-out. Well, I have two people in my life who are long overdue for honest acknowledgments of their contributions to my success -
And Ivy Vahanian
They are much more than my primary makeup artists. They are collaborators, in every sense of the word. My favorite quote, "Oh I see, you're the brains and Jordan is the brawn," is a pretty accurate observation. They do hair, makeup, styling, lighting, art direction, and on and on. Really, as long as I keep the camera focused, they'll make sure I look good. And I use auto-focus!
Their influence can be seen all over my website, but only by me. Nowhere are their contributions specifically noted - they are, by far, too numerous to mention. Just assume that if you love a photo, one of them had a hand in creating it. This blog probably won't reach the billion people who saw Natalie's speech, but it's the best I can do.
Ivy is at heart a natural art director. She's a fountain of ideas. Last fall we were shooting Jenna Lee Crowl's actor comp card. I wanted to do a straight business shot, and Ivy suggested a softer approach. "Have her eating some yogurt." I dismissed it out of hand, but she was not deterred. To get her off my back, I took the shot, and loved it. Then it was time for the mom shot, and Ivy walked off and returned with a ready-for-camera little boy and handed him a cupcake. When we needed a dance shot Ivy suggested an alley for the location. Once again I dismissed it, this time as too grungy (you'd really think I'd have learned my lesson years ago). She convinced me that the contrast would work, and she even helped with the pose! Finally, as I was taking the "legs" shot, Ivy was directing Jenna on position.
Pamela has collaborated with me on Dancers Among Us from the very beginning. Her participation was invaluable in its early stages, and I still rely heavily on her advice to this day. Early on she volunteered her time to accompany me on several shoots, and she helped me communicate with the dancers - as a former dancer, she was able to speak their language while I was learning on the fly. My very favorite photo could not have happened without her involvement. The plan was to shoot Annmaria Mazzini, of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, jumping over a puddle in a rainstorm. Pamela offered to join us on the shoot, despite being pregnant AND having dinner plans that evening. As the rain poured down, she held an umbrella over my camera without protecting herself. While she was getting drenched she was shouting technical notes to Annmaria in between jumps. This went on for twenty excruciating minutes. The resulting image has been seen all over the world, with only my name attached.
These are just two of literally hundreds of examples of their participation in my process. Not to mention the positive influence of working with close friends who make me laugh. After today I will go back to taking full credit for everything. But in this moment, I'm telling it like it is. Thank you!