Now, the story of how Greg Gorman became Greg Gorman has become a legendary tale. He discovered his calling in 1968, after taking a borrowed camera to a Jimi Hendrix concert in Kansas City. “I virtually had no intention of pursuing a career in photography when I borrowed my friend’s camera that day,” he reminisces. It was only when he developed the photographs that Gorman decided to enrol in a photojournalism course at the University of Kansas, marking the beginning of his famed career as one of the most revered photographers of our time.
From portraits of Hollywood idols and iconic advertising campaigns, to editorials and sensuous nudes, Gorman has done it all. Be it his legendary l.a.Eyeworks campaigns, his poetic study of a human body or alluring and intimate celebrity portraits, it’s a potent, dynamic interplay between highlights and shadows that makes Gorman’s work stand out and withstand the test of time. “When I began shooting pictures, all my images looked like interchangeable postage stamps – tremendously over-lit – leaving nothing to the imagination,” he recalls. In the 1970s, Gorman shifted his light off the centre, developing his stylistically unmistakable approach to image-making.
Erotic, glamorous and utterly intriguing; Gorman’s black and white portraits “strip everything bare of any artifice” and manifest the mutual trust between the photographer and his subject. “I don’t have the patience or desire to ever photograph an inanimate object,” he declares. “I enjoy the personal interaction of coming up or down to someone’s level, being able to break through and capture at times one’s own inner soul!”
With a foreword by Sir Elton John and an afterword by John Waters, more than four hundred pages of It’s Not About Me take a comprehensive look at Gorman’s extremely wide-ranging career and his contribution to camerawork and art. Still shooting, the photographer has recently ventured into winemaking and slightly turned his passion from photography towards teaching his craft to others. To this day, Greg Gorman remains an unabashed perfectionist. “Satisfaction breeds complacency which distracts from striving for perfection,” he says.