Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lucky Seven Reasons to Love Albert Watson

Road to Nowhere
Photographers who reach a certain level of creative renown, or success, get to be called by their first names only, at least among photo editors. There's Bruce. There was Herb. There is Annie. And there is Albert.

I think I met Albert Watson for the first time in 1988, when I went to see a new studio he had just opened in the Meat Packing District, which at the time was still filled with meat packers (during the day) and tranny hookers (at night). Why on earth, I thought, would he want to be here? The answer was apparent when I saw the studio, which was high-tech, chic, and homey all at the same time--one of the nicest places I'd ever seen. Over the years I payed many visits. Watson established himself as one of the world's elite photographers, and what I found most interesting about him is that he could and did shoot every conceivable kind of subject, in every conceivable style, yet the result was always an Albert picture: dramatic, sexy, sleek, iconic. Watson's knowledge of and use of studio light is unparalleled.

 A few years after Watson opened his studio, the Industria studio opened down the street, and today the area is all boutiques and hotels full of people from London and L.A. Watson himself left a few years ago. He said he didn't need the space anymore because there were so many great rental studios, but maybe it was also because since 2000 or so he's been spending lots of time in Las Vegas, compiling a body of work that is constantly surprising, intimate yet fully observed. There's a show at the Hasted/Kraeutler Gallery with a few of the images, along with other Watson work, and tonight he'll be making a presentation, along with famed photography editor Laurie Kratochvil, at the Helen Mills Theater, 137 W. 26th Street in New York. Doors open at 6:30, and the talk at 7:00. (The presentation is sponsored by the Society of Publication Directors, and you can find more information at its website.)

In the meantime, I've put together seven lucky reasons to love Albert's Las Vegas work.

Breaunna, Las Vegas Hilton
The God Sign, Rt. 15
Dogs in Car
Stripper Shoe
Sink at the Oasis
Heat Lightning

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