In a comment about my photograph of Roald Dahl (posted December 3, 2009), Heather recently asked me if I would say what was the most flattering and the most offensive remark made to me when a subject saw the picture I had taken of them. Here is my answer:
I liked the German painter Rainer Fetting's comment on seeing his picture. "Some kind of sexy," he said. Or from Stanley Kubrick on the set of "Dr. Strangelove" after I had been there a few hours taking pictures of him for a magazine, he asked me if I would like to work for him. He had not actually seen any of my photographs but said, "You seem to stand in the right place."
Then the withering ones: "The carapace of an aging turtle - sub Avedon," from the British actor Dirk Bogarde. On second thoughts this is not actually offensive, just a description from a good writer.
Offensive? What about this from the writer William Styron? "I do not care for the photograph." (Now in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian.) But the most offensive answer I have received to a request to photograph somebody was made at a London tennis club in the mid seventies when I asked John McEnroe if I could photograph him. He replied, "What's in it for me?" I don't think McEnroe is like that now. (Except he is still funny.) I am a great fan of his commentating and playing.