Greg Gorman: Star KC Photographer – Part I

On Friday, 16 March 2012, I was listening to KCUR’s Up To Date with guest host Brian Ellison. The interview was with Greg Gorman, native KC area star photographer. (see: KCUR Greg Gorman Interview). Gorman is a KC area home boy who attended Pembroke and Shawnee Mission East High School. “He majored in photojournalism at University of Kansas, then attended the University of Southern California where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in cinematography in 1972.” (ASMP flyer)

Gorman makes a yearly trek back to his KC roots. He credits his midwestern upbringing with how he has been able to adjust up and down to the different personalities that he’s met over the years. His first photo was taken as a 17 year old at a Jimmy Hendricks concert. He borrowed a camera from a friend and developed the images.  He can’t remember now if the blurry image of Hendricks was a result of being such an amateur, or too much partying. It really didn’t matter, because as soon as he saw the depth of the blacks and the contrasts that appeared on the page – he was hooked, and the rest as they say, is Gorman’s story.


Gorman’s photographed so many iconic photos. He credits his success with being a control freak and also getting to know the talent before each shoot, so he can know which angles work best for that individual talent, since each talent is different. He’s a “star photographer” because he’s a star in the photography world plus he has taken so many photographs of Hollywood’s stars. Gorman gave a talk about his work at the Nelson Atkin Museum in affiliation with the Canon Explore Light lecture series, and the American Society of Media Professionals on Friday at 7 pm. The program was sponsored by Canon, X-rite Photo and H&H Color.

The audience enjoyed his candor and the rhythm of the evolving faces of celebrity photography over the years. Recognition is priceless! We were there with him, as he told the stories of one actor caught on film rolling a joint or another actor receiving a big roll over the phone during his photo shoot, or of the publisher that didn’t appreciate the effort it took for him to get a famous singer’s shot in the privacy of the singer’s own home. The mystery is in the shadows of Gorman’s images, and that mystery draws the attention of the audience inward.

I took some shots of Gorman. I sought his eyes with my lens. I caught him from my point of view. I also asked someone to take a shot of him with me. I was grateful for the shots. For more of his work, see: Greg Gorman website.

Stay tuned for Greg Gorman: Star KC Photographer – Part II.


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