by Skip Cohen
Sometimes the fun of Throwback Thursday goes well beyond the photograph itself and includes a few backstories. Let's start with the portrait above.
Sometime around the mid-90s, Kodak launched their DreamMaker ad campaign featuring noted professional photographers staring in their own fantasy portrait. That's well-respected photographer Lisa Evans above. The campaign was for Kodak's VPH films, and the ads ran in just about every photographic magazine. In addition to Lisa's, one of my favorites was Al Gilbert's on the right.
Before sharing Lisa's fantasy portrait, I called her. What a kick it was to catch up on the back story. She sent me an email and wrote:
Thanks for taking me down memory lane. Being invited by Kodak to be a part of their Dream Maker campaign was a real treat. As I mentioned I got to choose the photographer I wanted to create my Dream portrait. After my first choice. Annie Lebovitz was unavailable, I chose Mario Casilli who did a wonderful job. Known for his incredible portraits of the stars that dawned most of the TV Guide covers for so many years, and of course as head photographer at Playboy Magazine, he had the skills needed to help create a Mermaid.
Kodak gave me one of the most memorable experiences of my lifetime. From working with the costume designer to fit my mermaid tail and hand made shell bra, the makeup artist and even getting hair extensions and hair styling. A team of five people flew from NY from Kodak and the ad agency to watch the making of the mermaid in what used to be the old Pasadena Library, which Mario Casilli had converted into his incredible photography studio. To top it all off after the shoot, Mario Casilli himself drove me to the airport in his Rolls Royce.
The Mermaid image was on the back cover of The Professional Photography Magazine, Rangefinder Magazine and more.
But that's only the first chapter of the backstory.
Last fall, I wrote about the industry losing one of its biggest and best supporters, Kodak's Terry Deglau. At his memorial service in Pittsburgh, I caught up to Bill Burbank. Bill and his team were responsible for putting together so many of the Kodak ads and programs back in those days.
A couple of weeks ago, he sent me a phone shot of Lisa's DreamMaker portrait with a comment, "Look what I found!" That led to me calling Lisa, her email back to me, and the two images above. And while they're her phone shots of the experience and won't win in print comp, they're perfect for capturing the fun of the story.
As I've written a few dozen times in the past, the best thing about this industry has little to do with photography but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft! And, as it turns out, Bill's brother lives just a few blocks away from us. Bill's no longer in the photography industry, but that doesn't take away from the fun of getting together whenever he hits Florida for a visit!
Happy Throwback Thursday and a BIG thanks to both Bill and Lisa - what a kick to turn back the clock.
Throwback Update: My buddy Glen Clark posted the image below with his comments on my Facebook post, then did a great version of his own Throwback on FB. These are the first truly clean copies I've seen that show just how beautiful the campaign was. That's the legendary Jay Stock as Buffalo Bill, and Glen also had an original of the Lisa Evans ad. THANKS Buddy!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.