Jesse Dittmar has covered a lot of ground in the two years since he took his first celebrity portrait—over 200 shoots with subjects who are famous for all kinds of things. Among them are plenty of movie stars and rock stars, but also playwrights, novelists, opera singers, composers, inventors, directors, designers, media moguls—an interesting bunch for a cocktail party. Dittmar has collected these black and white portraits in Two, a book he published recently (and showed at NYU’s Gallatin Galleries earlier this summer). The book pairs subject by profession and by mood, but also by unexpected parallels—who would have guessed Megyn Kelly and Bob Mankoff share the same flavor of hairstyle, or Mika Brzezinski and Serena Williams match in a certain set of the mouth.
Dittmar writes in the book’s text that when photographing people he has long admired, “You have to forget you’re a fan… After you do that you can learn a lot, like Tom Hanks is a doting grandfather who collects typewriters, Patti Smith handwrites thank you notes, talking about chess makes Sting smile, and Mike Myers cares most about being a new dad.” Dittmar describes bringing music to his set as a way to connect with his subjects. A love of music, he writes, is “a human thing, and I’m interested in humans. I love asking questions. I love shaking hands, looking someone in the eye, and getting a sense of what they’re all about.”
The Art of Photographing Celebrities
How I Got That Shot: A Downton Abbey Group Portrait, In Camera (For PDN subscribers; Log in required)
From Assistant to Photographer: How Jesse Dittmar Launched His Portrait Photography Career (For PDN subscribers; Log in required)