I assisted Norman Parkinson, "Parks", as he was known to his friends, in or around 1986 while I was living in Paris. He was a long-standing photographer for the magazines, Town and Country, Harper's Bazaar and Vogue and was in Paris to photograph Jacques Chirac, the mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995, on the steps of the Marais. (I got to meet Mr. Chirac and shook his hand.)
An excerpt from normanparkinson.com...
"Norman Parkinson (1913-1990) was one of the twentieth century's best-known fashion photographers. He was active for over 50 years and was instrumental in taking portrait and fashion photography beyond the stiff formality of his predecessors and injecting an easy and casual elegance into his images.
Norman Parkinson's impulsive and unstructured style changed forever the static, posed approach to fashion photography, while his enchanting, idiosyncratic persona charmed his sitters and projected an alluring and glamorous public image.
By the end of his life he had become a household name, the recipient of a CBE, a photographer to the royal family, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, and the subject of a large scale retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Norman Parkinson died whilst on location in Singapore shooting for Town and Country in 1990."
After the shoot with Chirac, I asked Parks if he would allow me to make a portrait of him in his hotel room. He said that would be fine and when would I like to do it? Later that evening, I said.
During my stay in Paris, I had the good fortune of meeting a few fairly famous people. Karl Lagerfeld, Paloma Picasso, Phillipe Starck, Andy Warhol and Roman Polanski among others, if you don't mind me dropping a few names. I had this idea that I wanted to photograph some of the celebrities I was meeting and have them pose with a pair of those 'Groucho Marx' glasses on. Unfortunately, by the time I came up with this idea, my meetings with fairly famous people were dwindling in number. I asked Allen Ginsberg but, he refused.
Anyway, uncomfortable with asking Parks, outright, to wear them, I placed the glasses on a side table near the chair I wanted him to sit on for the portrait, where he was bound to see them. He came in, sat down, looked over at the glasses, picked them up and put them on without me saying a word.