The Paris-based photographer has released a new limited-edition tome showcasing another side of his work.
After launching his first book, the champagne-fueled “A Night on the Town in Paris,” at Colette during Haute Couture week in January 2016, François Goizé is back with a new collection. More intimate yet equally arresting, “Portraits” is a different kind of rogue’s gallery of personalities from the worlds of fashion, music, luxury and art, from Beth Ditto to Charlotte Rampling.
Presented in a glossy magazine-cum-book format, the new limited-edition work — a lockdown passion project of sorts, which involved excavating the contents of some 40 hard drives — gathers images culled from across the photographer’s career, dating back to a candid shot of Cindy Crawford in her bathrobe, taken backstage during her first fashion week in Paris in 1983.
Goizé’s aim, as a a regular contributor to titles including Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue Paris and Vogue.com, covering the industry’s most glittering fashion events and parties, was to show another side of his work, with his ability to catch portraits of stars on the fly and offer a rare sense of intimacy. The photographer, who started out as an assistant director on feature films, brings a cinematic eye to the game, incorporating all the lighting and staging techniques acquired working on movie sets.
He sought to create playful contrasts in the book’s photo pairings, for example placing a photo of French actress Blanche Gardin bellowing into a megaphone next to a portrait of fallen Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, captured at the Ritz in 2012 after receiving the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, taken for WWD.
Other highlights include a shot of a matching bow-tied-and-suited Sharleen Spiteri and Alber Elbaz taken for Vanity Fair France, a black-and-white portrait of the late Pierre Bergé seated in a chair in his office in Paris, “surrounded by clutter, boxes of books, photos and files,” and a close-up of Giorgio Armani taken at his summer estate in the south of Italy.
What’s invisible to the viewer is the pressure-cooker context in which many of the photos were taken. Goizé creates magic in the time it takes to snap a Polaroid: a number of the images were taken with time-pressed PRs breathing down his neck, while others were captured in a sweet moment of complicity with the subject. One case in point is a sensual, graphic portrait of Kendall Jenner bathed in shadows that was taken during an event held by Longchamp.
“Those are these special, unscheduled moments. She was moving through the Opera and the natural light was landing right on her, so I took a few shots,” recalls Goizé, who likes to try to put his subjects at ease, creating a rapport of trust “so they can give a part of themselves, give me something simple but true.” That includes pulling funny faces: actress Eva Green giving a caricatural wink also made it into the 78-page tome.
“I like to find the emotion. I like to put them in a universe, a décor, an atmosphere, to give another layer to the photo and the personality,” says the photographer, citing an image of Betony Vernon captured on a garden path in her hometown of Tazewell, Virginia.
“She’s kind of small in the photo, because the environment is all around her, and I think it tells a different story than if I had taken a closer shot,” says Goizé, for whom each of the portraits captures a different narrative and moment in time. “The photo is a story in itself.”