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The Biggest Celebrities

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders Tackles Large Format Photography

By Lorraine A. DarConte

1 of a 4 Part Series

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ portrait of Alfred Hitchcock, along with those of Martin Scorcese, Steven Spielberg, and other celebrities, are on display for the first time in Movie Stars: Portraits by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, at the Museo Carlo Bilotti in Rome, Italy. Greenfield-Sanders' work is also in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, the Whitney Museum, and the National Portrait Gallery among others. 

Though Greenfield-Sanders has been a professional photographer since the mid-1970s, photography wasn't his first career choice. He discovered the joys of portraiture while attending the American Film Institute. While there, he was asked to take portraits of visiting filmmakers/guest lecturers such as Ingmar Bergman and Bette Davis for the school's archives.

One week, he had the opportunity to photograph film legend Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock didn’t like the way Greenfield-Sanders was lighting the room and invited him to his studio and introduced him to his lighting staff. "They taught me what to do because I really didn't know what to do; I wasn't much of a photographer," Greenfield-Sanders admits. "So I started to learn at the feet of these great masters." He eventually switched gears noting he liked the portrait experience more than filmmaking. "I enjoyed the one-on-one aspect of it and the chance to meet new people."

Greenfield-Sanders photographs more than just celebrities. "I began with the art world photographing artists, some famous, some not. Eventually that opened up my world to fashion, movie people, politicians, musicians, and architects, etc. Shooting for me is always easy; once I meet the person it's a question of chemistry and I try to find something in common." Greenfield-Sanders notes that he tends to know a lot about the subjects he photographs and jokes that the biggest challenge of taking a good portrait is getting the person to the studio and dealing with public relations people.

Greenfield-Sanders captures his portraits using large format view cameras—8x10 and 11x14. For this exhibit, he notes, it was essential that he use the latest technology to produce photographs worthy of the Museo Carlo Bilotti, so he teamed up with Epson and Nash Editions, a fine art digital printmaking studio. Greenfield-Sanders wanted to exhibit 50 B&W and color prints up to 56 inches wide by 72 inches high. His negatives were scanned and then printed with the Epson Stylus Pro 11880, a 64-inch wide format inkjet printer.

The printer features a new TFP print head, which in combination with AccuPhoto HD screening technology held all the detail captured in the original 11x14 negatives. The combination of the print head, screening algorithm, and Ultrachrome K3 with Vivid Magenta ink faithfully reproduced all the subtleties of the photographer's lighting, including accurate flesh tones.

"My negatives are all large format—8x10 and 11x14—and so it was a chance to get gigantic scans and really see the quality of this printer. I have to say the results are phenomenal; the quality of the printer is remarkable." Prior to working with the Epson 11880, he used the Epson 9800, a 44-inch wide format printer. Before that, Greenfield-Sanders contact-printed his negatives. "Ten years ago, you couldn't imagine printing anything beyond 11x14 unless you had an 11x14 enlarger, and there were only two in the world," he states.

Choosing images for the exhibit was not as hard as one might think. "I was looking for the best large format pictures I'd taken—my favorites. "To see the images this scale—5x6 feet—was like seeing pictures I've never seen of mine before. There's something marvelous about blowing them up so big that you look at the faces in a new way. The finished prints simply look real."

Greenfield-Sanders hopes the museum exhibit will travel and says they're trying to find venues now.

To view more work visit www.greenfield-sanders.com.

Dec2007, Digital Output

 
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