I don't know how they do the greatest photography tricks. And I don't mean just tricks like this:
I mean the simplest, most natural ones where the camera seemed to extract the purest essence of a complex, charismatic self:
Well, after month of planning and prep work, including painful workouts, photographer Edd Cox and I had our date with destiny. And, ever the control freak, I'd picked everything I wore with an eye to color and impact: from the pale gray--not black--eye patch...to the Speedo-style white T-shirt...the light gray jeans...and the 13" fighting stick. I also packed a second, backup shirt in case the Speedo didn't work. And Edd wanted a notebook in one hand as well as the stick in the other.
We worked in a half-dozen locations and ended up taking a total of 254 shots. Later I'd be astonished to see that no more than 30 of the shots were worth a second look. And of the 30, only 4-5 could be picked as semi-finalists. And, ultimately 2 out of 254 would work for the promotional project that we had in mind: a limited edition of 50 personalized post cards to be sent to fave friends and fans.
And here's where the process, I think, becomes genuinely interesting. The two finalists came at the start and the end of the shoot. The first one is a relaxed shot by a waterfall, perfect in composition and setting and color, with me wearing both of those shirts. I hadn't had the chance yet to start posing and working the camera. And Edd hadn't started yet to tell me to turn this way or that, do this with my head and do that with the stick, then raise the notebook just a bit. But 250 shots later, I'd started coming unwound.
And Edd kept telling me to stop being such a stick and let him have some attitude. Turn this way, raise my head, widen my right eye, raise the notebook, turn the stick, for God's sake turn my shoulder--
I did the only thing a man like Reb MacRath can do: I forgot who and where I was, then whirled, raising the stick like a 13" cigar, which I proceeded to 'smoke' while I glowered at Edd Cox--who snapped the shot...then laughed like hell.
We had ourselves a winner.
The world's first photo of a writer smoking a nunchaku stick is coming your way soon.