By Jim Colton
George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak company, once said: "Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography."
Perhaps nowhere is this truer than the art of portraiture. Using light (artificial or natural) and understanding its nuances, is an art form in itself. The subtleties imbued with light and shadow can make or break a compelling portrait. And few in our industry, embrace, admire, love and know light as well as Gregory Heisler.
In addition to the 70 plus covers he has done for TIMEmagazine, Heisler’s portraits have also graced the covers of LIFE, Esquire, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, GQ, GEO and The New York Times Magazine. His commercial and advertising clients have included American Express, Merrill Lynch andNike. Heisler’s work has been recognized with prestigious photographic awards including the Leica Medal of Excellence and the Alfred Eisenstadt Award.
One of the portraits he is most noted for is the January 7, 1991 TIME magazine "Men of the Year" cover of the 41st US President George H.W. Bush. The cover line read, "The Two George Bushes," and showed President Bush in two profiles as a multiple "in-camera" exposure, not created after the fact in Photoshop.
After its release, then US Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwaterwas furious claiming the magazine lied to him and only wanted to show the President as a "two-faced" politician which resulted in the temporary revocation of Heisler's and TIME's White House press privileges. They eventually reinstated them and Heisler has photographed several sitting Presidents since that time.
He is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls, Massachusetts where he devotes much of his time giving back to students there as well as photography workshops and lectures in Maine, Santa Fe and Dubai.
Greg was always the “go-to guy” when I was at Sports Illustrated when we needed a dynamic portrait. I am sure I speak for many of my brethren in the industry who felt the same way. You always knew he would come back with the goods.
Read the interview here: https://nppa.org/page/photo-journal-gregory-heisler-exploiter-light