I’m excited to announce that a Politics section has just been added to my website. As the political season is gearing up, I’m taking a direct approach to landing some of those portrait commissions – showing off a collection of my best political portraits (so far).
One of my favorites was with the conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr., shot for The New York Times Magazine in 2004.
Buckley made his name as the longtime editor of The National Review, but I knew of him from his TV show Firing Line, which I watched in the early 90s. The show was smart, and he was biting and witty, but frankly, half of what he said went over my head.
So, it was with both excitement and intimidation that I approached the Buckley home in Stamford, Connecticut. Buckley was welcoming and showed us to the TV/harpsichord room to set up (doesn’t every home have one?) and even offered me a smoke after I inquired about the little trays of loose cigarettes around the living room (“my wife smokes, would you like one?” he asked leaning into me, delivered with equal amounts of hospitality and sarcasm).
As with any celebrity sitting, we talked while we shot, and as a politics buff, I asked him his take on the Neo-conservatives and the Iraq War, among other things. He answered my questions, albeit briefly, and after a few minutes he asked, “are we done with the photography then?” It was only then that I realized that I was standing there with my camera in my hands and hadn’t really been taking any pictures. I mumbled something like “oh, no, sir,” looked down into the viewfinder and shot a few frames in quick succession.
After the sitting Buckley gave me his blessing to take a few snapshots around the house. I shot one of his liquor cabinet, and later tried to figure out why Campbell’s Beef Broth was in there. Turns out that it’s the main ingredient in a “Bullshot” (along with vodka, Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt and pepper).
Perhaps, if you’re by my studio sometime and we can try making it, and do a proper toast to one of my favorite subjects, the late great Bill Buckley.