There’s no better way to appreciate a view of the world than through the eyes of a professional photographer, especially one responsible for capturing historic moments held in our collective memories. If one of their pictures can be worth a thousand words then a documentary film about their career can speak volumes – about their life, their time, and the culture reflected in their work.
Rose Hartman and George Zimbel are contemporary photographers each with lengthy careers spent photographing famous moments and significant people. Unlike paparazzi they didn’t “go after” famous people. Instead they were on assignment, or invited to places and events as part of the scene.
Now the camera lens has been focused on them. The resulting biographical documentaries, “The Incomparable Rose Hartman” and “Zimbelism,” are captivating accounts of their lives as photographers. Both are screening in Toronto during the 2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.
Hartman and Zimbel are intentional observers with the temperament and skill to watch and wait for the perfect photograph-able moment to present itself. Their portfolios are filled with such images, many with perpetual social and historical significance.
For the past three decades Hartman has photographed the rich and famous in their natural habitat of New York nightlife. Many of her most iconic images are from the Studio 54 era of the late 1970s, of club regulars Andy Warhol, Cher, Mick and Bianca Jagger. But equally powerful is her pioneering work in the fashion business revealing both private and public times in the lives of many fashion designers including Halston, Ralph Lauren, and Donna Karan.
Hartman’s photographs have been published in countless publications including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times. Her third book of photos, “Incomparable Couples” was published in 2015.
At 86 years of age Zimbel is one of the last working elders of street photography. His portfolio is a collection of candid portraits of everyday people – farmers, city folk, adults, children – mingled with presidents and movie stars. For decades Zimbel was a freelancer supplying the New York Times with photos. As the film reveals, he is responsible for iconic news photographs that are forever imprinted in our memories; JFK and Jackie on the campaign trail, and Marilyn Monroe with a wind-blown skirt during an evening press conference for “Seven Year Itch.”
Zimbel’s work can be seen in a number of prestigious collections worldwide including the National Gallery of Canada, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, The Internal Center of Photography and Musee National d’Histoire ‘art de Luxembourg. His book “Momento,” a collection of 155 black and white images, was published in September 2015.
The 2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival runs April 28 to May 8. For schedule and ticket information visit the website. See you at the movies.