Would You Rather Have Sex With Marilyn Monroe or Take Photographs of Her?

I Keep a Close Watch on This Heart of Mine
Update: Ok, so the combination of a few drinks and zero sleep has muddeled my memory at bit. Maryam Scoble points out that it was actually her that asked the Marilyn Monroe question while we were talking to Tara. Sorry about that Maryam. You are the one who should be credited with the interesting question. Maybe we need to have you start asking the questions on the photo walks along with Robert: 🙂

I got a pretty hot photo of you and Robert kissing by the way, that is coming soon.

So Tara Hunt asked me one of the more interesting questions I’ve ever been asked about my photography night before last. Tara was up in Seattle for the Blog Business Summit, which coincidently took place over the same days as my trip to visit with Getty Images.

A bunch of us went out for drinks (the bloggers from the blog business conference were in pretty good spirits after attending a red wine and gin tasting event where I’m guessing more gin was consumed than red wine).

So while we were all chatting Tara told me this story about a photographer (whose name I’ve forgotten) who supposedly once had a choice to either take photographs of Marilyn Monroe (which subsequently started his career as a professional photographer) or to have sex with her. Apparently he chose to take the photos. This could be just a total urban legend by the way. That story is not so much the point as Tara then asked me what I would do.

If given the choice to either sleep with Marilyn Monroe or take photographs of her which would I do? The first answer was easy. I’m married and so sex with Marilyn was out. But I’d love to shoot her. So then the question was reasked, if I were *single* which would I choose?

And here still the answer came up the same. I’d rather shoot her than have sex with her. Which is not to say that having sex with Marilyn Monroe would *not* be something right up there on a list of pretty amazing things to do in life. Whatever else I may be, at base I’m still a very much a red blooded American male who like many other red blooded American males would probably kind of like a night with Marilyn.

But Tara’s question made me think more about my own love of photography. And the opportunity to shoot someone of as much historical significance as Marilyn and to be able to create and capture intense images of the starlet who perhaps more than all others oozed this most intense sexuality would be a more personally rewarding experience for me than sex itself. Sex would be a momentary thing — remembered, but something that would fade in time and become increasingly less significant and meaningful. Photographs on the other hand can last much longer — and to be able to include my own images in an archive on the starlet years after both her and I were gone would outrank even sex.

I love photography. I shoot photographs every day. I got some really great photographs of Seattle on my past few days there. I’m calling the set of images I’m working on “Sleepless in Seattle” because rather than sleep I spent most of the night hours out running around the City capturing beautiful works of neon art, street reflections, store fronts, and cityscapes.

I also got some really good portraits of not just Tara but a bunch of other people who were up there as well. Halley Suitt, Robert and Maryam Scoble, John and Linda Furrier, Matt Mullenweg, Jake McKee, Kristopher Tate, lots of folks from Getty and Edelman and even Jason Calaconis (who was the only guy in two days who asked me to stop shooting him — but I kind of go non stop on people and it can get annoying). Watching Tara Hunt bust Jason Calaconis” balls for about half an hour of so though ranked right up there as another highlight of the weekend as well. I can only say that having had my balls busted a few times by Tara in the past myself.

Speaking of people not wanting to have their photograph taken, here’s a bit of advice. Most people I meet that don’t want their photograph taken tell me that they don’t want it taken because they don’t think they look good in photos. They say photos of them never turn out well. But the reason why photos don’t work for these people is because they don’t like having their photo taken in the first place. When I meet someone I typically will just start shooting them. They will react either one of two ways. Either they will protest (and not just verbally but even with their body language) or they will embrace it and enjoy it. If they protest verbally then maybe I get one or two shots of them. If they protest with their body language maybe I get 5 or 10. If they are into instead I might take 50 or 100.

As a photographer you want to get the best possible shot of someone you can. You are likely only going to choose one or two photos of that person for any sitting or setting. When you have 50 shots to cull one or two out from you get much better shots because 48 end up on the cutting room floor. When you have 2 to choose from it makes it harder. My advice to people who say that they never take a good picture is that they especially, instead of shutting down a photographer give them the most time, attention and latitude. This will yield the best possible photos and most great photographers can take a good shot of just about anyone.

Some people just naturally embrace the camera, Tara Hunt is one of them. Tantek Celik is another. Robert Scoble another. And the reason why I can get better shots of these people than other people I shoot is because they become willing participants even to the point of forgetting I’m there shooting after a while. The people who are considered the most photogenic are usually the people who let photographers shoot them over and over and over again.

But do love shooting everyone. I especially love people who ask me to take their photo. I met the most amazing woman at about 6 a.m. at Pike’s Market in Seattle on my trip. She had this beautiful accent and stopped to tell me that she had seen me taking photos of her the day before. I’ll post her photo here once I get it up and processed. She told me that she had had her photo in a flyer that the market handed out. She posed for me while I snapped off a few photos of her and I felt great being able to capture her smile.

10 Replies to “Would You Rather Have Sex With Marilyn Monroe or Take Photographs of Her?”

  1. I have never heard a better description of the real reason some people hate getting the picture taken.

    I use this photo as an example for people who say they’re not photogenic:

    That wall was beautiful and I passed it daily. I started taking photos of it and it took me 3 months before I got that good one. The wall was protesting the whole time, saying it wasn’t photogenic, but I knew that time and enough wasted photos would eventually prove it wrong 😉

  2. Well, it’s funny – I like having my pic taken, and if you look at my photos, it’s the same smile.

    I’ve had people note that I automatically go with the big smile. Eh, it’s me.

  3. Thomas,

    Correction: You were talking to Tara and I joined the conversation and asked you the question about Marilyn. Of course I always like to be mistaken by Tara. She is a lot more interesting than I am, but seriously how many drinks did you have that night??? 🙂

  4. Great to meet you in person, finally! I had a good time at BBS, but that night of beers and laughs was the highlight of the trip. Let me know if you caught any decent pics of my blerry eyed self.

  5. You’re making the assumption that people want to see photos of themselves in general, and that they can be persuaded by the promise of better pictures. Well, there are other reasons to object to being photographed: privacy, the lack of ego, the risk of narcissism. Never mind Dorian Gray, have you forgotten what life in front of the camera DID to Marilyn Monroe? Please, of someone says stop, just STOP, and don’t even print the pictures at all.

  6. D’oh! Love Blogger comments….

    “Anonymous” comment above was me.

    Jake McKee

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