Laurel Canyon, CA (Perfect Music Today) 11/9/17/– Jimmy Steinfeldt: How often do you clean your lens?
Kim Gottlieb-Walker: I can’t remember the last time.
JS: What photographers influenced you?
KGW: The main one would be Henri Cartier Bresson because he was the one who talked about the decisive moment and that’s the kind of photographer I am. I wait for a moment that I feel is significant, something that is worth preserving. I’m not just a scattershot photographer and I don’t do landscapes. It’s people and I wait for the decisive moment.
JS: Who else influenced your photography?
KGW: My mother. She had been a photographer’s assistant in the 1940s. She really taught me about light. She taught me how to look at how the light was reflecting off of peoples eyes and how it could bring out their bone structure. She made a very strong impression on me.
JS: What was your first camera?
KGW: A little Brownie box camera before I was ten years old. Shooting pictures of my little brothers. When I went to Berkeley I had my mothers camera which was a fixed lens 35mm camera. Then I got a Pentax which got stolen. Then an Olympus OM-1 that I used for most of the Bob Marley stuff. Once I started working professionally I got a Nikon F2 Photomic and that lasted me for 35 years.
JS: What cameras are you shooting with today?
KGW: I have a Canon 5D and I have my phone, and a little Sony pocket camera. I only shoot for love now.
JS: Is there a camera you always wanted but never got?
KGW: I always wanted a Leica. I like the quality of the lenses.
JS: Tell me about doing stills for movies.
KGW: It’s a wonderful job because so much happens in front of your lens. You could be a journalistic photographer your whole life and never have as much happen in front of your lens as happens in one day on a movie set. I look at the job as being the documentarian of the set. So it’s not just the publicity stills that are going to go into the press kit, it’s also the historical record of the film being made. It’s what’s going on behind the scenes as well. Make up, special effects being rigged, the director working with the actors. All the things that make the production happen.
JS: Is there anyone you’d like to photograph that you haven’t?
KGW: I only shot one of the Beatles, George Harrison, and I would have loved to have shot all the Beatles. Also I never shot Dylan and I would have liked to have done that. The access back in the 60s and 70s was remarkable. Much easier then now.
JS: What advice would you have for a young person who wants to pursue photography as a career?
KGW: Don’t shoot hundreds and hundreds of photos of the same thing. Wait for your moment. Also label everything really well because forty years from now you won’t know who you shot or when or where. Put together a really good portfolio. You can start with friends and family and events at school.
Get used to shooting and get comfortable with it. The fact that a camera can capture an image is magic! Remember pictures are just light reflecting off surfaces. They’re not truth. If you can manage to take a photo that does give some truth to the viewer to capture the essence of someone, their personality then you’ve really accomplished something. You’ve turned light into a historical moment that’s worth saving,
JS: What’s next for Kim Gottlieb-Walker?
KGW: I’m going to be doing a book called My Sixties which goes from 1964 to 1974. Also I wrote a romance novel entitled Lenswoman about a young still photographer in the 1960s and 70s working in the underground press and then working on movie sets. I’m going over the fourth re-write with my editor and that will be ready for publication next year.
JS: Where should I point my readers to learn more about you?
JS: Anything else you want to add about your incredible work and career?
KGW: My career has been so varied. It started with the underground press, then working with music companies then working on films. Then when I got into the cinematographers union from my work on Escape from New York I worked in television: Cheers for nine years, Family Ties for five years. I worked on pilots for Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Steven Spielberg’s series Amazing Stories. That was great because I got to work with Spielberg, and Clint Eastwood because they had different directors each week. I’ve just been very fortunate. My career has been so varied and so much fun. www.Lenswoman.com
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