THE DEEPER TRUTH OF NEW YORK’S CELEBRITY CULTURE EXPOSED: INTERVIEW WITH MILES LADIN

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Image : "Rihanna  with Designer Zac Posen at Fashion Rocks, Radio City Music Hall, NYC, 2006” Photo by Miles Ladin

1. Miles, what image have you chosen to feature at the WE:AMEricans exhibition at Station Independent Projects? Why ?

For this exhibition I have chosen my image Anna Wintour, Clarissa Bronfman, and Annette de la Renta at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala, NYC, 1995. The show WE:AMEricans is designed as an inclusive look at all types of Americans. My picture, and a lot of the work I make, represents citizens of extreme privilege.

" My subjects often reap the benefits of wealth or fame. Both values have unfortunately become synonymous with the new American Dream. " 

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2. Why do you make work in New York City ?

I was born and raised in NYC. I grew up on Beekman Place, around the corner from Truman Capote. Although I’ve made some pictures elsewhere, working in NYC gives me the opportunity to be both an insider and an outsider at the same time. I grew up with a certain degree of privilege, attending the right schools, vacationing in Sardinia and St. Moritz. In the 1990s, I started to get amazing access to A-list parties and celebrities while shooting for The New York Times and W Magazine. When those doors opened, I was able to observe a world that was far more exclusive than the reality of my upper middle class upbringing.

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Image : "Donatella Versace at the Fashion Group International Gala in NYC, 1994" Photo by Miles Ladin

3. How did you get your start in New York ? 

After a year of shooting nightlife and restaurants for a neighborhood rag, I cold called up a photo editor at The New York Times’ Styles Section.

" I was able to get a meeting and then my first assignment…without connections I might add. You couldn’t do that today. "


Image : "Four Seasons Hotel Opening, NYC, 1993" Photo by Miles Ladin

4. You are best known for your unique black and white images of glamour and celebrity culture. Why are they unique ?

It’s probably best to let others decide if my pictures are unique or not. However, I do find them certainly more interesting than the majority of celebrity images that are currently published. I’ve always been drawn to the moments in-between the photo ops at the galas. If I do shoot the red carpet, I try to deconstruct the control that the PR operatives place on the situation.

" Although often glamorous, these events usually remind me of a stilted stage set with characters that are humorous but ultimately sad in the hollow aspirations they reflect. "

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Image : "Standard Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida, 2009“ Photo by Miles Ladin

5. Why do you choose to work in Black and White ? 

Black and white images allow the viewer to focus on the metaphorical context of the composition. Colors can sometimes distract. Also, with black and white photography, I’m able to access an amazing range of art historical references ranging from Franz Kline to Film Noir.  

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Image : "Hilton Sisters at the Sean John store opening, NYC, 2004" Photo by Miles Ladin

6. In your opinion, what are the ingredients for success when it comes to photography ? 

Are we talking about commercial success? When I started out there was the possibility to get assignments from mainstream publications that would allow for the photographer to be a creative artist in addition to being a journalist.  I don’t see that opportunity today…anywhere! At least not in my field of interest.  In terms of the more important success of being an image maker, that is a goal that is self realized and not contingent of outside forces that ebb and flow within their commercial constraints.  Success for me at this point in time is limited to the opinions of a select few artists I respect as well as my own very self-critical eye.  

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Image : "Stephanie Seymour and Peter Brant, CFDA Awards, Lincoln Center, NYC, 1995" Photo by Miles Ladin

7. What can we expect to see from you in the future ? 

This October (at Station Independent Projects) I’m launching a limited edition artist’s book Supermodels at the End of Time. The project combines my photographs of supermodels shot in the 1990s with text by Bret Easton Ellis. I’ve also started work on a new series that includes my photography of zombies with other pictures relating to the painter James Ensor and mixed media works. 

Miles Ladin

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Image : "Anna Wintour, Clarissa Bronfman, and Annette de la Renta at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala, NYC, 1995" Photo by Miles Ladin

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