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I've got a nose for portraits. As a pro photographer shooting movie posters, magazine covers, and ad campaigns back in the day, I was lucky to get face time with lots of famous people. On photo assignments, after I got the shot for my client, I'd often ask my subjects to wear The Nose. It was not only good fun, it became a successful public relations campaign for my photo business. I called it WHO NOSE TOM ZIMBEROFF! On a regular basis, I mailed a series of postcards depicting personalities wearing The Nose to potential clients. It was obvious whose famous face was hiding behind the goofy disguise, but that was the joke, of course.
The negatives for these photographs have been tucked away in storage for more than twenty years. All of the film (b+w negatives and color transparencies) has to be scanned to make digital files. That's the purpose of this Kickstarter project. With your support, we can scan all of that film and, who nose!, turn the restored collection into a book, so a new audience can share in the fun—and the history.
All photographs © 1989 - 2013 Tom Zimberoff
Steve Jobs and the Rosetta Stone
I shot STEVE JOBS on a magazine assignment, in 1989, at NeXT Computer in Palo Alto, California (before he reconnected with Apple).
I arrived on location early to look around for props. I found a replica of the Rosetta Stone hanging on his office wall. Perfect! Consider it the original tablet computer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosetta_Stone. I took it to the lobby, where I had more room to set up lights and cameras, and I wouldn't have to drive Jobs out of his own workspace while making Polaroid test shots with a stand-in. (In the analog era we called them "Paranoids.")
But there were several huge windows in the lobby. I sent my assistant out to bring back yards and yards of opaque, black velvet drapes to block the daylight, so I could control my lighting effects. It took a few hours to seal out the sun and turn the lobby into a makeshift studio. Everything was ready to make this photo shoot as convenient as possible for Jobs.
He arrived accompanied by an entourage that included musician Stephen Stills (of Crosby Stills Nash & Young), whom I already knew from an album cover shoot we did in 1977. Jobs brushed right past me, took a perfunctory look at my set and said, right In front of everyone, “Who’s stupid f*%#@¢# idea was this?” I said it was my stupid f*%#@¢# idea, and if he didn’t like it he could go f*%# himself because I went to a lot of trouble just to make him look good—for me to look good for my client, too.
I don’t remember the details, but while some huffing and puffing went on among Jobs’s acolytes, I went over to say hello to Stephen Stills. I was prepared to pack up and leave without a picture. But Jobs came over, all smiles, and apologized.
Only recently, after reading his posthumously-published biography, I discovered that such startling outbursts of invective were not reserved for visiting photographers, like me. Apparently, they were pretty common. Jobs used shock and awe to separate the meek from those with more mettle. Anyway, we got down to work. Several different setups and wardrobe changes later, we finished with The Nose.
GEORGE LUCAS and YODA
That same year, 1989, I was invited by George Lucas to visit Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California. The invitation and portrait shoot came about in an unusual way.
I was the featured artist at a Sausalito gallery in conjunction with the Mill Valley Film Festival (both in Marin County, which was also my home). We were displaying huge framed prints I'd made of movie stars, directors, and writers. Almost at the last minute, I realized that the person most singularly associated with movies in Northern California lived and worked practically around the corner: George Lucas. And he wasn't represented in the exhibition. How could that be! Well, that's exactly what I thought I should tell him. So, in an uncharacteristically brazen moment for me, I picked up a phone and called Skywalker Ranch. "Hello, I'd like to speak with Mr. Lucas please." What do you know! He took the call. I told him who I was and how I hoped to include him in my pantheon of portraits celebrating the film industry. He kindly agreed.
The next day, I drove out to Skywalker to meet Lucas and scout for props and a space to set up my backdrop and lights. During our first meeting in his office, George tossed his assistant a set of car keys and told him to drive me down to "the warehouse" in San Rafael, about a dozen miles away. We arrived at an innocuous looking building surrounded by body shops and furniture stores. When the door was opened for me, I experienced what Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon must have felt like, as they peered into King Tut's tomb for the first time. Entering, I was immediately confronted by the Death Star (a plastic model about the size of a large beach ball). Standing nearby were C3PO and R2D2. Awestruck, I turned my eyes toward—well, props galore hardly does justice to describe what I saw. Arrayed on shelves like Costco was everything. Looking back through the fog of time, it seems as immense as Costco. Surely it wasn't that big. But it was larger than life. Here were Indiana Jones's whip, his hat, and leather jacket. Here were the light sabers. Just sitting on a shelf. I could touch. I could hold. Here was the robe of the Emperor of the Dark Force, which I later got George to wear. Here were all the handmade models of Acclamotor assault ships, Corellian corvettes, a Naboo royal starship . . . the Millennium Falcon. Holy crap! All there. Storm Trooper helmets and Darth Vader's mask. I could go on. I did go on a fantasy shopping spree. I picked some of this and some of that, along with a few of those. And we drove back to the ranch. Yoda was, in fact, already there, waiting for us; although a number of his stand-ins remained in the warehouse. On the way back, I kept imagining what might happen if we got into a fender bender on Hwy 101 or got stopped by a cop heading north to Lucas Valley Road with all of this booty in the back of our SUV.
A very patient George Lucas persevered for all the time it took to run dozens of rolls of film through my Hasselblad. I printed two separate portraits for the show: one of George wearing the Emperor's robe and the one you see, here, with Yoda. And, at the end of the shoot, he put on my own precious prop: The Nose. Later, he visited the Hanson Gallery in Sausalito, and bought one of my prints.
Thank you. Enjoy!
KEEP THE CAMERA!
Camera & lens used to shoot Steve Jobs and George Lucas—President Ronald Reagan, too, for the cover of FORTUNE magazine.
FRAME YOUR POSTERS or PRINTS
Here's a slide show depicting some more of my portraits (without The Nose):
Risks and challenges
We need enough responses from our backers (i.e., you) to make our print run of posters economically viable.
I'll ship the posters, prints, and stickers to you myself, and give you a heads up, by email, when they're on their way.
If this project is well enough received to warrant the publication of a book, every single backer, regardless of the amount of your pledge, will receive a grateful printed acknowledgment in the book itself.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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