Sophia Loren in Miami

I’ve just been alerted that an article I had photographed for Architectural Digest Magazine in 1995 is appearing again in the magazine’s online site. Here’s the link:

Architectural Digest Visits Sophia Loren in Miami

As a photographer, it’s satisfying to learn that your work of the past still holds interest for today’s readers. But that’s always and especially true when the story involves a celebrity. And this one’s not only about your average celeb but an icon in the world of film.

Back then I had received a call from the assignment editor at Architectural Digest that the actress, Sophia Loren, had an apartment in South Florida. That wasn’t news to me because I had been hired to photograph that very apartment for its interior designer, Ted Fine, and I had recently completed the shoot. Architectural Digest had seen the photos and wanted to use them in a story. As an AD Contributing Photographer, I was regularly assigned shoots in South Florida as well as at locations throughout the Caribbean. The photographs of Sophia’s apartment hadn’t been published anywhere yet and when the call came from AD, I was able to assure the magazine that it would be the first to publish them. But AD wanted more than just those interior design shots. Sophia herself had agreed to appear in the story and that’s why the magazine was now calling. She had promised the magazine to make herself available for a shoot in the apartment.

That assignment would become a memorable day for me. Sophia posed for my camera in four different areas of the apartment. She would appear styled differently for various activities which included dressed to go out, casually relaxing at home and, most interestingly, in her kitchen preparing a meal. I learned that she had authored a cookbook and was used to shopping her ingredients at Lorenzo’s Market in North Miami Beach.

Being the consummate pro, she treated me and my crew with the utmost respect and was surprisingly generous with her time, She was happy to dress and prep herself without the aid of a personal stylist and was ready-to-go for four individual scenes. She asked for nothing more than our input and approval as to her apparel for each setup. I have to thank my wife, Loretta, whose artistry and experience in the garment industry bore fruit that day. My skills are elsewhere, but Loretta boldly stepped to the plate and became the actress’s advisor for each appearance.

The most challenging setup was the scene in the kitchen where it would appear that she was preparing a meal for friends. We had learned she was quite used to doing this (knowing a local resource like Lorenzo’s for example). Loretta came up with the idea of Sophia making her own pasta and to pose her working a pasta machine. Loretta is a very experienced amateur chef, and since that kitchen had few accessories, she brought her own pasta machine from home along with an assortment pots and dough prepping materials. All that remained was the sheet of dough and the rolled pasta to come out of the machine in the shape of linguine. No, we didn’t actually make it from scratch – we purchased sheets of pasta from Lorenzo’s Market and they stood in very well. On the day of the shoot, Loretta, her star-struck emotions in check, stood with the actress helping her set up the “pasta making scene” – and we had it! In addition to the shot for the magazine, a black and white polaroid of Loretta Forer and Sophia Loren together in the kitchen is a wonderful souvenir of that day!

Loretta & Sophia Captioned 4

A Study in Style – Cher’s Vision in Miami Beach

It’s been my mission through the years I’ve spent photographing residential interior design to interpret the work of the artist-designers who’ve trusted me to record their creations. From the crisp, clean modernism of today to the revival of a style from the past, these homes all have a common theme: that the homeowner wishes to live surrounded by beauty as he or she personally sees it. They each and all are special.

When the assignment came from Architectural Digest Magazine to photograph Cher’s home in Miami Beach, I found myself in a place rooted in the past. Although modern in most functional respects, the mood of the home was a combination of Middle Ages meets Renaissance meets North Africa. With much of the furniture and accessories of her own design, Cher had created a warm and romantic feeling. Sheltered in an architecture of arches, columns, mysterious hallways and winding stairs, the home is an example of a very personal vision, one all her own.

 

The Entry Foyer flanked by stairways leading to the home’s private areas

The Entry Foyer flanked by stairways leading to the home’s private areas

 

In the foyer the mystery begins. I felt the best time of day to shoot this space would be at dusk when the subtle tones of low kelvin interior lighting and candlelight would predominate. Actually, the shot was set up at night and we waited for the blue light of dawn outside to light up the windows and doorway. This blue effect outside helped emphasize and contrast the warmth inside. I attempted to make the interior surfaces appear as though they had been lit by existing built-in sources. In reality, these real sources weren’t enough to convey the effect I wanted, so I had to provide my own lighting. My goal when doing this is to make it seem as though I’ve added nothing; the effect being a natural part of the scene.

 

The Master Bedroom

The Master Bedroom

 

Although the Master Bedroom could have been photographed to great advantage at night, just like the Foyer, I felt that, in this case I could take advantage of the sunlight flooding in during the day.  In this way I would provide some contrast for the art director designing the layout;  moving away from the mystery and drama of the night look and contrasting it with a “natural” day lit scene. Of course, the word “natural” is only what seems to be. As usual, I bring in my own lighting to make the image work. But the effect in the scene’s light is again, natural.

 

The Living Room at dusk looks out to the nearby waterway

The Living Room at dusk looks out to the nearby waterway

 

Cher’s collection of objects represented many different styles. But the overall effect was of a world traveler who collected as she roamed. So it was important for me to focus on and illustrate the artifacts and artworks which adorned the home. I did this in the main Living Room area as well as in her Bedroom and Study.

 

Personal treasured objects and artworks detailed in the Living Room

Personal treasured objects and artworks detailed in the Living Room

 

I was intrigued by the mysterious entry and hallway leading to the Master Bedroom. The arched door and ceiling gave further emphasis to the Renaissance period mood. Looking though the door towards a far sunlit window past sconces and dramatic single sculpture drew me in. Shooting a one-point perspective further dramatized that feeling.

 

Arched doorway leading to the Master Bedroom

Arched doorway leading to the Master Bedroom

 

Columns everywhere; plain ones and fluted ones with ornate capitols, wonderful to use as frames to the compositions of many shots. Here in the Dining Room was an incredible table setting, overflowing with objects.

 

An ornate Dining Room flanked by columns

An ornate Dining Room flanked by columns

 

I needed to do a closeup so that the details of the settings could be better understood. look at the tiny blossoms and rose petals dropped everywhere!

 

A Dining Room place setting adorned with rose petals

A Dining Room place setting adorned with rose petals

 

The courtyard to the home ensured a measure of privacy for a celebrity whose fans were curious about her lifestyle. But, in the end it couldn’t ensure it absolutely. Tourist boats plying the waterway behind the home would come in close, loudspeakers blaring, announcing the star’s presence. That may have been the straw that broke. She sold the house some years after this shoot.

 

Privacy insured by a walled Entry Courtyard

Privacy insured by a walled Entry Courtyard