Anyone who has ever wanted to be a photographer knows that one of the hardest
things to do is to approach strangers and ask to take a picture. If the stranger
happens to be a celebrity, it’s even harder because the answer can be NO just as
easily as yes. But when you ask the celebrity stranger and try to apply a certain
visual stamp (your particular style) on top of it all, that’s the mark of an intrepid
photo warrior….either that or someone who has mastered the art of being charming
and skillful. David Jacobs is just this person.
His book of celebrity portraits is as extensive and tenacious a collection of famous
contemporary people as any in existence. And they are real. These are not
beautiful photographs of people beautifully made up and dressed and coiffed and
styled and watched over by their PR bulldogs. No! These are the real people. We
know their faces as being familiar but we don’t know them like this. In David’s
photographs, the celebrities become real people, just like the rest of us, and in so
many ways, It makes them immediately more accessible and empathetic. We can
like them for who they are more than for what they do.
The backstory of how David gets these photographs is impressive. David Jacobs
was a portrait photographer with a press pass. I met him when he came to see me
at the Miami Herald where I was the Director of Photography and the Asst.
Managing Editor for Photography and Features. His photographs were so in your
face, so honest, and always very well done, up close and personal and all these
people were showing up in South Florida on a regular basis. We decided to run a
photo column called “On The Scene...With David Jacobs” in the Features section
and each week David would surprise us at who was in town and who he had
photographed. His access was unmatched and amazing.
Glamour abounded in Miami and David, in some way known only to him, managed
to get into where these glamorous people could be found. If he is shy or hesitant,
we cannot tell it from the portraits. Celebrities seemed to like him, and stopped to
give him the time of day. There is something about David that makes him seem
more like a collaborator than a nuisance, a threat, or another aggressive
paparazzo. Perhaps it is an innocence and a belief in glamour, in celebrity and the
demystification of it, and the realization that in the end, famous people are just like
you and me. David boiled them down to lifesize in a manner of speaking with his
consistent photographic approach.
David has photographed hundreds of subjects over a ten year period, never
wavering from his hard, honest look at famous people. In a way, he is looking
through and seeing through the concept of celebrity…who is famous, and why, how
does it have anything to do with how they look, the twinkle in their eye, the curl of
their lip, the gloss of their hair…he is examining and analyzing and coming at them
with HIS point of view.
Now, at a time when we are living in the height of celebrity---it has taken over
the airwaves, the magazines, the TV channels and programming, the movies and
new social media--- it’s worth it to get a fresh honest look at celebrities such as
David shows us with his work. Because in the end, they are a mirror of us….our
desires, dreams, fantasies, misconceptions, our desire to be beautiful and live what
seems like glamorous lives when in the end, it’s just the luck of the draw, they
could be you or me and in taking a closer, in-the-cold-light-of-day look, we see
behind and beyond the Hollywood façade and right into the eyes of people, just like