In 1997, as part of an extensive portrait project I was completing for a Kansas City ad agency, I flew to New York to photograph Gordon Parks.
I contacted Gordon by phone, several weeks prior to my trip. This was, by far, the most exciting photo assignment I?d been hired for in my 7 years of shooting. I was already a great fan and admirer of Gordon Parks, his life and work. He agreed to the project and asked me to call him when I arrived in New York.
The evening I arrived, I checked in to the Algonquin Hotel and gave him a call. He invited me to come and have dinner with him at his apartment at United Nations Plaza, a short walk from my hotel.
He greeted me at the door like we were old friends. He was so warm and his apartment so beautiful. That evening, Gordon cooked me dinner. We ate grilled fish and sweet potatoes, drank red wine and talked about photography, art, artists he knew and had known, and his work. After dinner, we sat on the floor of his living room and reviewed folios from his book, Half Past Autumn, which had just arrived thatday from his Italian printer. I headed back to the Algonquin about 11:30 that nightwith an invitation to return the next day to do his portrait.
The next morning, I returned to Gordon?s apartment. While I photographed him, we continued to talk as if we?d known each other for years. When we started the portrait session, I was extremely nervous. But this world famous artist was patient, encouraging and inspiring. We talked about his children quite a bit that morning. When I finished his portrait, he showed me some of his art collection which included works by Picasso, Matisse, Gauguin, and Giacometti.
That weekend was a great milestone in my life, both personally and professionally. To this day, I treasure Gordon?s kindness, inspiration, time and the gift of his beautiful images.