Greg Gorman, American celebrity portrait photographer: “Tarragona has got a raw talent”

© Rafael Ló—pez-MonnŽé

Since he was young, the bella Sofia Loren was one of the fetishes of Greg Gorman, the famous American celebrity portrait photographer. In the mid nineties, as a grown-up, he actually got to photograph her, and the diva, full of the energy and sensuality she’s has always transmitted in films, got her hair and make-up done by herself for the occasion. The photographer was really enjoying that time with his camera when, during a short break, the actress performed herself: “You know, Greg? I am not sixty; I am three times twenty”.

Many things in life change depending on how we look at them. An artist in permanent evolution, Greg Gorman (1949, Kansas City) has developed his own shooting style for portraits, one of the most complicated photography genres. The intelligent way he deals with both light and shades in his sessions, most in black and white, have led him to an international success. By hiding or lighting what is necessary, in the same way Caravaggio did in the 16th century, faces and bodies are, behind Gorman’s lenses, full of a type of expressivity that has become a true icon. “The most interesting pictures are those in which there is room for imagination”, says the photographer.

Usual collaborator of publications such as Vanity Fair, Newsweek or Vogue, Gorman photographed future Hollywood stars for some time. His works from the 80s and early 90s anticipate the persuasion ability we would soon appreciate in Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp or Leonardo di Caprio performances. Now, and coinciding with the exhibit “A distinct vision”, which gathers 220 pictures of these and other celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Bette Davis, David Bowie or Al Pacino in Tinglado 1 at Moll de Costa, Greg Gorman has gone deeper into our city in search for the perfect place for a photo training seminar.

The experience, he says, was really worth it. In the same way as in those days when he used to work with young artists, eager for success, Greg has discovered a not so ambitious Tarragona, but still loaded with seductive weapons, most of them though, undisguised under a layer of modesty; the kind of shade he would never reproduce in his portraits. “Tarragona has got a raw talent. It is a hidden gem that offers a unique blend of people, history and modernity very suitable for cinema and photography”, he says.

The photographer speaks very sure of himself. Thanks to Tarragona Tourism and the producer Andrea Eidenhammer, who has commissioned the exhibit, the artist has completely fallen in love –after just one week– with the abundance of details that make this city a great place to live and visit. Before travelling to the Priorat region –he is a huge wine lover– and going back home, in California, the artist gave his word for a second visit in June, during the Sant Joan local festivity. Then, and for five days, he will offer a practical short seminar about photography, with twelve international photographers taking part.

Having Gorman as master of ceremonies –since he will be teaching this year in Provence and Austria– is a great opportunity, yet another one, in order to light up Tarragona’s own light; the very same one we find in our clear skies and glowing sunsets, pure Mediterranean essence, which local artists boast about. Could Tarragona ever become an internationally renowned set for artistic photographs? Greg Gorman has no doubts about it, and says while pointing the city landscape with his camera: “It is just a question of locals believing more in it”.

Text: Oriol Margalef (@OhMargalef on Twitter)
Pictures: Rafael López-Monné
Translation: Artur Santos (@artur_1983 on Twitter)