"Like that Oprah Winfrey...Wasn't nothin' wrong with her! She was fine! Oprah was a fox! (Then) she lose all that weight, her head look all big, skin hanging all off of her. Oprah need to keep he ass one way, 'cause I'm confused.." -Papa Klump (Eddie Murphy), The Nutty Professor
My three throw back photos this week are Oprah Winfrey (1993), Amy Cox with her dog Lucca (2008), and me (1989)...
Now, I would be remiss if I didn't give acclaimed television personality, media producer, and Academy Award-nominated actress (among other things) Oprah Winfrey top billing. Her birthday is in a couple of days (January 29th), so it only makes sense to make her my celebrity thrown back this week.
The other two images I happened to stumble on a couple of days ago, and they both made me smile for different reasons, so why not?
I've been lucky enough to have a couple of brushes with Oprah Winfrey during my time living in Miami, so my Degree of Separation with her is in fine shape. This nice black and white closeup (nice for an event photo anyway) was from 1993, the first time I saw her, and was taken at a party celebrating the release of her autobigraphy.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to act like I'm all cool about the whole thing. I was as excited and nervous as you-know-what at the opportunity to meet her, let alone photograph her. In fact, I have never seen anyone create as much of a buzz walking into a room as Oprah did that night. And this was Miami, too. A town that was very much used to celebrities.
The soirée was sponsored by her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, and was timed to coincide with the release of Oprah's autobiography, titled - what else? - Oprah: An Autobiography. It was held at the fabulous International Place (now the Miami Tower, formerly Cen Trust Tower), one of the tallest buildings in Miami.
The fact that this photo is black and white tells you that it was from the very early days of my shooting South Beach club and celebrity shots for local social columns. At some point I made the switch to shooting everything in color.
A good time was had by all, and the photo ran in Tom Austin's column Swelter in Miami New Times...
One fun story I got to shoot for Lake and Sumter Style Magazine in 2008 was a feature and cover (the cover tear sheet is in the portfolio section of this site) about dogs...and their owners.
By the way, I'm the one putting the emphasis on dogs here, and not the other way around, as I'm convinced, after meeting all these good people, that the dogs actually run the show in many of their homes.
Now, normally, dogs are not a subject I would be that especially interested in, but whenever the magazine told me to jump, I would simply ask how high? No way I would turn down a job, especially when it involved a potential cover.
It ended up being a blast, and defintely nudged me out of my comfort zone a bit when it comes to shooting portraits..
As any dog owner will tell you, dogs have a complete personality of their own, and as challenging as it usually is to simply take a stylish portrait when meeting someone for the first time, it was even more so trying to get a good shot of them with their pets.
Thankfully, the human subjects were very adept at "directing" their dogs, so I posed the people, and they posed their dogs. It wasn't all that bad, from a technical standpoint.
The pic here is of friend Amy Cox and her very large dog, Lucca - who of course was a sweetheart. Amy runs an ad and design agency Flaxen Design (based out of Leesburg, Florida at the time, but now located in Colorado).
Yeah, that lowlife you see to the left there is me. To be fair, my track record with driver license and ID card photos actually isn't all that bad. I'll let you decide if this is an exception or not. It was an ID for a gym I belonged to in North Miami Beach for a time back in the late 1980s.
Yeah, of course they took the picture before I was ready. We've all been there. Still, I like this photo because it cracks me up. The beard, the lighting, my expression, they all cry mug shot or police lineup. I get to be a thug (either that someone who's really tired). Plus there are very few times in my adult life when my hair has been that short.
Best of all, it came at a time when I was just beginning to shoot fashion in Miami Beach. Very exciting times.
As always, it's fun to look back...
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All photos ©Steven Paul Hlavac. All rights reserved.