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James Patterson

James Patterson

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“If you FANCY the portrait assignment with writer James Patterson, the gig is yours Cy.”   That was the offer from my Sunday Times editor in London, England.  “Since it’s Florida, we’d love to see some palm trees!”

I responded with “I’m available, and maybe Mr. Patterson has a guest house I can move into.”

I did my research to look for subject matter to talk about with Mr. Patterson.  I don’t like to talk with my subject about what they’re best known for because they’re probably bombarded by those questions on a daily basis.  After becoming a fan of his Facebook Fan Page, I saw that he recently had TWO holes in one.  Bingo, golf is enough subject matter for me!  I’ve played golf since the age of 10, and now do a lot of work with the Golf Channel.

I traveled down the Florida Turnpike a few days later on Monday, March 11th, 2013 with orlando videographer Craig Kotilinek.  Our address revealed a gorgeous Palm Beach oceanfront mansion.  A member from Mr. Patterson’s staff greeted us in the driveway, and showed us inside.  We set up a Profoto 7B on a light stand, overlooking his front yard and the Atlantic Ocean.   Mr. Patterson quickly came out of the kitchen and I introduced myself.  “Hello Mr. Patterson, my name is Cy.”  He responded with “Nice to meet you Cy, call me Jim.”

Golf was immediately the subject matter as I asked Jim about his recent hole in ones.  His eyes lit up.  He told us all about them, and the golf competition he enjoys with his wife Sue.

It was downright shocking to hear that Jim still uses a pad a paper to write.  I asked him if we could use them as a prop for a photo, he said they were upstairs in his office.  I didn’t want to trouble him, but then he invited Craig and I upstairs to his office.  I was amazed to see the inner workings of his business life.  There were dozens of manuscripts and screenplays in progress.  Everything was neatly labeled, and claims his assistant cleaned up the place a few short hours ago.  It was fun to discover a golf photo of Jim golfing in Thailand, surrounded by yaks.

Back downstairs, it was amazing to see a huge print of Micahel Phelps beating Serbia’s Milorad Cavic in the 100 meter butterfly at the 2008 Olympics.  The photo was taken with an underwater camera by famed Sports Illustrated photographer Heinz Kluetmeier.  Patterson’s wife is a former All-American national swimmer.

I talked Jim into going outside to make the portrait above.

In the hour I worked with him, I can tell you that he loves his family, loves to work, has no plans to retire, loves golf and enjoys sharing stories.  He’s a great guy, and I already look forward to working with him again down the road.

To read an interview with James Patterson in the New York Times, view this Jonathan Mahler article from January 2010.

Here’s a link to our Sunday Times article, written by Ali Hussain titled ” Fame and Fortune: I like a thrill but hedge my bets.”

James Patterson Sunday Times

 

 

Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham for the Sunday Times

Mark Billingham for the Sunday Times

I was asked to make a portrait for the Sunday Times (London) of British crime writer Mark Billingham. Billingham has a vacation home in Sarasota, Florida for when he isn’t working in London. Excuse me… It’s a “Holiday” home. The Sunday Times editor sent me some great examples of past work for the Homes section, which I was working for. The magazine needed some portraits of Mark and his family and some interiors of the home.

I did some research for the photo shoot by visiting Mark’s website and finding the home on Google Maps.

I called Mark on the way down from Orlando to Sarasota. I left nice and early. We scheduled an 11am meeting at his home on Wednesday, July 25th. The Billingham’s couldn’t have been any more pleasant. I had to turn down multiple offers of tea. I felt bad, but I’ve never been a tea or coffee drinker.

Their home was beautifully decorated with a British and holiday theme. There were portraits of writers, the Queen, punk rockers and more. I loved the British flag over a couch and an antique sign they purchased at a yard sale over the master bed. They also had an older London subway map in the master bathroom. Claire, his wife, pointed out many decorations in the home including some Ringling Brothers art and statues of monks. Other things that caught my eye were a wooden chicken sitting atop the fireplace mantle, a colorful “Hamburgers, Ice Cream, Malts” sign and antique Pepsi memorabilia in the kitchen and a cow skull in the living room.

I asked Claire if it was weird having a photographer photograph every room in their home and she replied, “no, we’re used to it.” She even kicked her son out of his room so I could go in for a few minutes. (Sorry Jack!) I also asked Claire how many books Mark has sold. She didn’t know either, so she went to ask him. She returned and said “seven million.” I was really impressed with the figure, but Mark has another book coming out soon, and the number will rise.

Since I grew up in Maine, I brought up the only fiction crime writer I knew… Stephen King. I got the chance to photograph King before the start of a Rays and Red Sox game many years ago. King also has a home near the Billingham’s, and Claire said she’s seen him out and about a few times but has never said hello. (I’d love to get back to the Sarasota area to make a portrait of Mr. King! Hint Hint.)

I then made portraits with my Profoto 7B and Elinchrom Octobank of the family and Mark alone. We started in the kitchen, moved to the living area, then near the pool and finally in the front yard. We had a few wardrobe changes during the session much to Mark’s dismay. We also loosened up their French doors so they both open!

The clip is from the Sunday, August 5 edition of the Sunday Times in London, England.

Subscribe to the Sunday Times.

Visit Mark’s website or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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