Gert Scholtz in Lifestyle, Professional Photographers BeBee Ambassador • beBee Oct 21, 2017 · 2 min read · 2.0K

Portrait(s) of Herb Ritts

Portrait(s) of Herb Ritts

His break came on a long trip through California with a friend. The car they were travelling in had a puncture and they stopped at a garage to change the wheel. On a whim he asked his friend to pose for a photograph. It was Richard Gere and a year later both were stars. Gere on screen, Ritts behind the camera.

Herb Ritts was one of the stand-out photographers of his time. His work covered fashion photography, advertising, and portrait photography. He worked with clean lines and strong forms, almost all in black and white. He had an uncluttered simplicity in his work which made it striking, with the originality a true creative. Social history inter-played in his photographs of noted individuals in film, fashion, music, politics and society.

His portraits included many Hollywood stars, but also well-known world figures such as Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Stephen Hawking. He did campaigns for Donna Karan, Revlon and Tag Heuer. He came from a privileged family and moved in celebrity circles; many of his publications were risque - both certainly played a part in his success. 

Ritts was one of the first commercial photographers to rely on primarily on natural light, specifically the light of California’s “golden hour” between three and six in the afternoon. He had an exceptional eye for composition, shade, grain, and the person behind the photo. "For me, a portrait is something from which you feel the person, their inner quality, what it is that makes them who they are."

Said one magazine editor: “Herb was not only our key photographer, he was incredibly generous. Unlike others in our field, he was the opposite of a prima donna. He made people feel welcome." Isn’t that the real art of portraiture - to make a person feel welcome – in their own photo?

His advice to young photographers: "Feel your surroundings.Try and develop a style. Don't get caught up in the technical side of things. Feel what is right in terms of light, subject and composition. Dare to experiment, catch a moment."

When I look at his photos, I am reminded of my time at university, earning my way with photography, winning a few competitions, loving portrait photography, at times contemplating a full time career as photographer. I learned from Ritts' technical brilliance, and his work was an inspiration. At the time media was only in print form, and his images transported to other worlds, when celebrities and world figures had an added allure because of their remoteness. 

Herb Ritts was a star  - behind the camera.

Herb Ritts : August 13, 1952 – December 26, 2002

Gert Scholtz Oct 24, 2017 · #22

@Tausif Mundrawala I appreciate your reading the post and your comments - Ritts was in my mind a legend. Thank you Tausif.

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Tausif Mundrawala Oct 23, 2017 · #21

An excellent way to pay homage to this great photographer. Once the time moves on than very few would acknowledge the work of legends. Am glad that you shared this buzz with us, my friend @Gert Scholtz

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Gert Scholtz Oct 22, 2017 · #20

@Jerry Fletcher Interesting point Jerry; Ritts must have seen much more about the real people behind the public image. Many thanks for reading and commenting.

Jerry Fletcher Oct 22, 2017 · #19

Gert, Thanks for opening my eyes to a stellar photographer. The greats like him make me wish I could have been there to meet the real people that others made celebrities.

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Gert Scholtz Oct 22, 2017 · #18

@Ken Boddie Now that is perfectly said Ken, about late afternoon light: "As it casts its soft shadows and fades slowly into darkness, weaving a spell of character across the human form. " A picture with words of pictures taken. Thanks for reading and your comments.

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Gert Scholtz Oct 22, 2017 · #17

@Phil Friedman Thanks for reading Phil - much appreciated. @David B. Grinberg Thank you for sharing to other hives David - and I shall certainly continue with the buzzes. @Joyce 🐝 Bowen Brand Ambassador @ beBee Then I am happy that you found it through this post - thank you Joyce.

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Gert Scholtz Oct 22, 2017 · #16

@Pascal Derrien Thanks for that Pascal - I would have loved to do some back page articles - except that I can't write in French! I appreciate you commendation.

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Gert Scholtz Oct 22, 2017 · #15

@Pamela 🐝 Williams That IS the challenge and enjoyment I had doing portraits - making sure the technical aspects are covered while at the same time getting the person to relax and enjoy themselves. Thanks for reading and commenting Pamela.

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