Steve Pyke Talk At Portrait Gallery

05/02/09 Here’s an iPhone photo of New Yorker staff photographer Steve Pyke giving a talk at the National Portrait Gallery. He’s showing the contact sheets of a session he did with Black Panther Bobby Seale and talking about how he chose the image to his left as his final edit.


From the program:

“Born in England and now based in New York, Steve Pyke first won notice for his distinctive, close-up portrait style in the 1980s, with editorial work for the music press and magazines such as Britain’s popular style bible known as The Face. Pyke’s photographs have since reached a wide audience through their publication in magazines around the world and their exhibition in museums and commercial galleries. Explore the art of the Portrait Gallery exhibit, Portraiture Now: Feature Photography, with the artist, Steve Pyke, who will give an exclusive tour of his process and his portraits.”

It was an informative chat. Pyke talked about photo selection and the role of his Creative Director at the New Yorker in helping him decide on approach and editing. It’s very important to him to crop in camera so many of his prints have black borders on them to show they’ve not been cropped. He talked about coming up with some ideas before a session and seeing if they work. For the portrait of Henry Kissinger below, for example, he used as a background a painting called “Dr K” by Jan Frank which is composed of dozens of Kissinger’s hallmark square glasses. The painting did not fit into the space where the portrait was shot so Pyke placed it on its side which gives the effect of glasses raining down behind Kissinger.


Pyke just published a book of still lifes and is currently working on a book about “photography and memory.”


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