Bruce Weber / Turn to the Light
"On the rooftop of the Shangri-La" by Bruce Weber
"This photograph was done for Calvin Klein's Obsession fragrance campaign with women that I knew well and really adored. When we were casting, I thought less about how beautiful their bodies would look in a photograph and more about whether they would be fun to hang out with and if the personalities would work together. I was fortunate-they all had a great sensitivity and enjoyed each other's company.
We did this photograph on the rooftop of the Shangri La Hotel in Santa Monica on a huge cushion we had made for them to lay on. We were about a mile away from a high rise building down the street, and I eventually noticed people gathering at the windows to see what was going on. I mentioned this to the models and they had a laugh-then came the inevitable call from the hotel manager:
"Bruce, I just have to let you know the police are their way up. Someone from one of the buildings nearby saw what was going on and they're coming to check on you." Luckily I had almost finished the picture, so I said, "OK girls, just grab a robe and go to someone's room for a little while." When the police arrived and looked around there were just a couple of us left up there, so they said, "Oh, forget it." I guess they got into the art of it, let's say.
I think these photographs were influenced by my idealized fantasy of what hippie life might have been like. I grew pretty cloistered a small midwestern town that was quite preppy and square-about as far from the Woodstock attitude as you can imagine. But I loved seeing that way of life in photographs and films, the freedom of it.
It's certainly an intimate photo, with an easy affection and trust-almost like a sisterhood, a way of being together that women can express in photos sometimes so much easier than men. Doing this work for Obsession gave me the confidence to put as much emotion into my photographs as I could, to not be shy about it."
19 September 2022