NiteTalk: Lensman Robert Zuckerman Brings Bowie, LaBeouf and Others to The Betsy

Lensman Robert Zuckerman might be best known for shooting the likes of David Bowie, Kate Winslet and Shia LaBeouf (among many, many others), but the veteran photographer also has a knack (and a passion) for capturing the magic of the everyday. At The Betsy Hotel on Sunday, Zuckerman will unveil both sides of his vivid story, as well as a collection culled from memory lane. Niteside caught up with the keen-eyed shooter on the set of Burn Notice.

Wanna give us a hint of what we'll see in your Portraits?
David Bowie at Coney Island New York in 1990, Roy Lichtenstein at Gemini Gel in Los Angeles around 1991, Natasha Richardson at her house in the Hollywood Hills in 1992, Brandon Lee on the set of The Crow in 1993, Marcelo Mastroianni at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills in 1993, Leonard Cohen before he went to the mountain in 1993, Gena Rowlands in Salt Lake City in 1995, Al Pacino in Miami on the set of Any Given Sunday in 1999, Will and Jaden Smith in Oakland in 2005, Javier Bardem in Beverly Hills in 2005,  Kate Winslet in 2005 and 2008, Jerry Bruckheimer in New Orleans in 2006, Shia LaBeouf on all three Transformers films and Megan Fox in the first two, and Emile Hirsch in Los Angeles in 2007, among others.

Of those included who was the most fun to shoot? That's like asking a kid who gets locked overnight at FAO Schwartz what's his favorite toy. So many favorites for different reasons, each with their own story, each rich with reward. Have had the pleasure and honor of repeat collaborations with Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Shia LaBeouf, Ramon Rodriguez, Rachael Taylor, Michael Chiklis, Nicolas Cage. Repeat ongoing collaboration is great because we're beyond establishing a rapport, it's already there. There's an unspoken bond of trust and intuition, almost telepathic. I don't have to say anything and the actor does incredibly beautiful, soulful things. Also Goldie Hawn, Susan Sarandon, Denzel Washington. The afternoon spent with Dr. Maya Angelou at her Harlem brownstone two summers ago was like going to the monastery atop Mt. Everest.

The most challenging? The sessions that I did with stars like Marcelloa Mastroianni and Javier Bardem for Venice Magazine during busy press junkets at The Four Seasons were challenging in that I had an empty hotel room with no lights or anything but us and but a few moments of time in order to get a compelling, magazine quality image.

Aren't you also showing snaps from two other series? Yes, one, Time Machine is called that because it consists of images some of whose negatives were vaulted for over thirty years before I took them out, scanned them and made beautiful prints. Through this process I was reconnecting with an earlier time in my  life. The other, Kindsight, is now my life's calling. It consists of images and accompanying texts that illuminate the richness of everyday life through random encounters and moments. It shows how any moment or encounter in our day can become a story of life's richness. I consider it the antidote to terror.

How'd you decide to show all this at The Betsy anyway? It was as they say kismet. I saw an article about The Betsy last year and was impressed with its mission, spirit of giving, commitment to arts and culture. I reached out to the heads of the hotel -- Jonathan Plutzik and his sister, Deborah Briggs -- and put them on my email list to receive new Kindsight pieces as I write them.  Lo and behold, earlier this year Deborah invited me to exhibit my work, and now, here we are.

Robert Zuckerman's Retrospective opens Sunday August 14, 7-10pm at The Betsy 1440 Ocean Drive South Beach. For more information call (305) 531-6100.

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