On the Waterfront, Avenue Magazine 1992
The ski lift in which I was sitting started to move and before I knew I found myself a couple of meters above the snow.
I realized it would take more than an hour to go to the top of the mountain and ski all the way back to the place where we were shooting sunglasses against a background of snow covered mountains. So I took a deep breath and jumped.
The skis I was wearing absorbed the impact very well, the stylist and the models applauded. Only then I realized I never jumped from such a height before. Time pressure can make you do silly things. Like becoming fearless, all of a sudden.
We were in the Alps, somewhere near Genève, on a shoot for the winter catalogue of a department store. One of the models, Mark van der Loo, was in a very good, somewhat exited mood. That morning, in the breakfast room of our hotel, he received a phone call from his agency, followed by another call from Bruce Weber, at that time the Internationally Acclaimed Number One Fashion Photographer. He had seen pictures of Mark and wanted him to come to New York, right away.
“But I’m on a shoot in Switzerland with the same photographer who took the pictures you’re talking about…”, I heard Mark say. Silence. While he was listening to Mr. Weber himself I only saw him nod a couple of times. Every time he started to talk he stopped in the middle of a word. “I’ll discuss it with the client, I’ll let you know as soon as possible.” He hung up. His face looked puzzled, astonished, a mixed expression of disbelief and excitement. “He wants me to fly in today! To shoot a big campaign, I’m going to be in all the magazines, my pictures will appear on gigantic billboards on Times Square, I’m going to make a fortune…He also told me to be grateful to you. For the pictures of ‘On the Waterfront’. That’s how he found me.”
A couple of months earlier we did ‘On the Waterfront’, for Avenue Magazine. A black-and-white story inspired by the movie starring Marlon Brando. Mark did not look like Brando at all, he was more a “James Dean type of guy”, but he expressed exactly the kind of feeling I needed, which was the reason for choosing him.
And now Bruce Weber had seen a copy of the magazine and wanted Mark for a campaign. I couldn’t say: “No, you have to stay with us, we still have a lot of work to do for this silly catalogue.” The pictures wouldn’t work out.
So Mark booked an early evening flight to New York and we went to the piste as quick as we could, to make as many pictures possible in one day. From now on we were in a hurry, needed every second. No way making a tourist trip with a ski lift for more than an hour.
Mark was going to be famous.