How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

Jim Parsons with Metropolis's Maria, shot for Rolling Stone

I just updated my print portfolio and my U.S. agent put a page-by-page web version ( My favorite addition to the book is this portrait of actor Jim Parsons, from Big Bang Theory, shot for Rolling Stone. Here is the story behind it…

The assignment got confirmed as I was shooting a Xerox print campaign and looking at my calendar I saw that I was to shoot for Xerox in the Hamptons one day and be on a plane to Los Angeles for Rolling Stone the next. Of course, the immediate question asked by the magazine is  “What would you like to do?” With no time to ruminate, and frankly, surrounded by top creative people I put it the crowd.

A number of fun and curious ideas come up but my favorite comes from Kleber Menezes, our Young & Rubicam Art Director on Xerox – to have Jim making out with a robot.

We had one day to pull together the shoot – so with me on the ground in LA ready to hit the prop shops and the magazine working the phone out of New York we got to work finding our robot. I described our girl as having a feminine metallic body but an androgynous android face. Deborah Dragon, the Photo Editor, promptly came back with a handful of visual references, including an image of “Maria”, the robot from the old Fritz Lang classic Metropolis. Deborah was excited about Maria, and I didn’t disagree, but it was such a long shot – to find a replica of a specific robot from a 1927 German film.

The Rolling Stone staff found an immediate lead in collector Forrest J. Ackermann, but further searching turned up his obituary and no word on what happened to his collection.

As the time was ticking away in our one day back-up ideas now had to be prepped, and other robots put on hold. But then with perhaps only an hour left before closing time Deborah called me and told me that the photo intern in their office found a Metropolis Maria.

Well, the shoot went great and the Rolling Stone television issue hit the stands just on time for the Emmy’s – at which Mr. Parsons won the top prize for a Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (congratulations Jim!).

This entry was posted in Behind The Scenes, Editorial, On Set, Photography, Portfolio and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

  1. Hey Chris,
    been a fan for awhile. Glad to see you are blogging!

  2. Julie says:

    Wow I’ve seen the other photo that was in Rolling Stone, and that’s one of my favourite portraits of Jim – this one is just as beautiful, such a great idea. Do you have more outtakes?
    I’ve looked through the web portfolio. Amazing photos, man.

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