This week I was assigned by The New York Times to make an environmental portrait of a man in Yamhill, Oregon for a piece written by Nickolas Kristof, one of the Op-Ed columnists for the paper. My assignment was to cover a story called, “Inheriting a Hard Life,” and Rick Goff was the subject on which the premise of the article was based. My missive from the photo editor was to, “think Dorothea Lange in color.” The late Dorothea Lange is famous for her work as a FSA photographer, most notably for her image, “Migrant Mother.” So with some ideas swirling around in my brain, we hopped in the car and bee lined it to Yamhill because the deadline was virtually the same day we had to shoot.
We arrived at the location and Rick was ready for us. He had apparently already received a copy of the story and was prepared to start shooting. We spent about an hour working on trying to make some images that best illustrated the point – an attractive portrait in an environment that was a working man’s setting. Rick was in charge of expression. He already knew that this wasn’t necessarily a happy story. He was really good at facing the camera which made our shoot go very smoothly. We worked in several locations and as we were wrapping up, I noticed these great windows. Since the picture had to be in color and Ms. Lange’s images are all black and white I decided to work with the window area because the colors were very muted. The wood facade, the window frame, the background and Rick’s posture all came together. I instantly knew that this was the image they would run. It’s in today’s New York Times, and although it’s color, it’s very monochromatic. I’m pleased with the way the image turned out and, as usual, extremely happy to continue to receive interesting assignments from the Times. Here are a few outtakes as well as some behind the scenes pictures.
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