I ended up taking a Canon EOS A2, a Leica M4, and a flash for the Canon, all of it stuck under my blue blazer, producing (particularly the Jack Rabbit pack) those fashion plate love-handles that only photographers trying to dress up can do. The bulges kind of negate whatever else you try to do to be cool (i.e. an ascot instead of a bow tie, or a banded collar shirt--you know--what Robert Redford would wear on the Letterman show).
So, protruding with gear, I met the reporter at a quiet table at Mortons, a steak house in Washington, to see about our rendezvous with Monica Lewinsky and her attorneys. It would be a "drink" at a restaurant (not at home, not shopping, not motoring around town), and it was very unclear just how much access we would have, if we would even see her at all, and whether there would really be a chance to photograph her.
When they came in (having been followed by the stakeout crew from the Watergate), they went almost unnoticed by the other patrons. It was a case of "I think she looks like her picture," and even from across the room we knew who it was. When we walked into the dimly lit, dark wood paneled private dining room, we couldn't have been more warmly welcomed.
My first move, although fruitless, was
to turn up the lights with the rheostat. No such luck. And this
is what you call "All the Lights on?" Messrs. Ginsburg and Speights, her
lawyers, were sitting at the table with her. They welcomed us, and we all
ordered drinks. (Tonic with lime and a splash of bitters. It's soothing
to a butterfly-threatened tummy.) The conversation was warm, and personal,
yet not exactly full of what Bob Barr might have assaulted her with. We
were really just trying to get a portrait of her, her feelings about being
chased by the press, what her life must be like "right now."
Having packed light, I had a small fanny
pack with 10 rolls of film, and my biggest worry was that I would be found
to be so compelling, so interesting, so fabulous, that I would stay on
and on, and eventually just run out of film. Well, I guess I wasn't quite
that interesting after all. With available light (Fuji 800 color neg--1/30th
@ f/2.5), I shot six rolls of film, including a frame of her with her Cosmopolitan
cocktail, and a series of what I suppose I would call "beauty shots"--if
that can be said of photographs shot in a room lit with a half dozen vertically
falling spot lights, creating eye shadows of the first and worst order.
The voice: everyone asks me what she sounded like. Except for the tapes, released in December, no one had heard her voice. To me, she sounded like a Beverly Hills kid, to be sure, but one who was far from clueless. I hope there will be another chance to photograph her sometime soon. She has become, unwittingly, the Woman of the Year in her own right.
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