An Evening with Platon

My husband works for the Center for Photography in Woodstock NY and the portrait/fashion photographer Platon was teaching a weekend workshop and giving a lecture in the evening. Prior to the lecture he had invited his class, employees of the Center, and close friends, to come to his house for a small intimate gathering.

I had come back from Mexico and gone to bed at some ungodly hour that morning, so it was a feat of strength to go. But I was still in the party mode and thought it interesting to meet other artists, especially ones who had made it in the art world.

His house was lovely, stashed in the woods of the Catskills. His wife, due to have a baby in a few months, was lovely and a wonderful portrait/figure painter. Art hung on all walls from floor to ceiling in the large central room. It was relaxed and informal, a far cry from the fast paced NY scene.

My husband and I talked to him for a bit about his assignment for Rolling Stone where he was embedded in one of the Army's boot camps down south He had gone into this assignment as one who is left of center (like us) and he talked about his amazement and respect for the youth of our country who were deprogrammed and then reprogrammed to become soldiers, and the sweat, tears, and team work that it took to get there.We have a daughter who served in Iraq with the 1st Armored Division as a diesel mechanic and a son who entered the Air Force in the Nuclear Weapons Division. They represented all that we were against. Yet Platon, like us, came to a place where life forced him to face these youth and realize that they are good kids who have a dream and vision-who are innocents and deserve to be respected in spite of what they represent and have to do. My daughter has come back damaged, my son got out after less than a year. Larry and I are trying to pick up the pieces, and Platon's kind words of "keep doing what you are doing and give what you are giving and it will reach them" was a balm to my soul.

The lecture was fascinating. He showed his portraits of many American icons such as Dustin Hoffman, Bono, Donald Trump, James Buckley, and Bill Clinton as well as some of his documentary work around the world. He had come here from England to work on John Kennedy Jr's magazine GEORGE. He was captivating as he had many stories to tell about the people he photographed. He showed a mix of work that was used for covers, and then also showed shots he did for himself - work that he knew would not be published, but contained a surreal essence of the sitter, that contained his own voice. Some did get published however, and he talked about the trouble he got into for the Bill Clinton cover and other shots he did.

What I enjoyed most out of the lecture was his discussion about the conflict between having a vision of what he wanted in a photo shoot vs the vision that the sitter had and how sometimes you just have to let go and let the moment happen. Often that can be a fabulous piece of work. As artists we struggle with making our art and sometimes have to let go and just let the process happen.

Platon's work can be seen at http://www.platonphoto.com/.

He is animated, intelligent, spirited, and an amazing photographer, well worth taking a workshop with or hearing him talk. Thanks Platon, it was a great evening.

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