My Lover, My Life
February 2008

by Françoise Kirkland

"We have fun, don't we?" Douglas calls from downstairs after a long day of working on this book, arguing and laughing. Editing thousands of images to create "Freeze Frame" was both an emotional and exhilarating process, watching our life through the work, discovering images we didn't remember existed, seeing ourselves through the 40 years of our marriage.

Our relationship began in 1965 in Paris on the film set of "How to Steal A Million," with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. I was a 21-year-old student at the Sorbonne; my mother worked for the film company. Douglas came to take pictures of the movie stars and romanced me by the Seine. We fell in love, continued our love affair while meeting in London, Rome, Venice and Madrid. It was my first taste of working together and it was wonderfully exciting and romantic. We eventually got married in Las Vegas late one night.

The Sixties and early Seventies were a period of abundance for photojournalism and we enjoyed the best of it. We lived like millionaires without the responsibility of being rich, staying in the best hotels of Europe and mingling with the "aristocracy" of the cinema. It was all very unpretentious, full of joie de vivre, and we embraced it heartily.

We got involved in the lives of our subjects, sometimes spending weeks at a time with them. Julie Christie took me shopping at Biba, the hip store in Swinging London. Brigitte Bardot ignored me, wanting Douglas all to herself. While we were sitting with John Lennon in a minibus in Hamburg a mob of fans arrived and rocked the bus. We stayed up all night discussing politics with Melina Mercouri and her Greek refugee friends. On the set of "A Countess From Hong Kong," Marlon Brando delighted in teasing me and making me blush, while on "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid," Robert Redford and I discussed love and philosophy between takes. Once when Douglas and I tramped through the corridors of the Beverly Hills Hotel with our photo equipment, well-appointed guests complained to the management about the hippies really taking over!

In spite of all the success and recognition Douglas has received there has always been an innocence about him that made him totally accessible and vulnerable and he remains the same to this day. He says, "Part of where I came from is still in me." A happy childhood in a small town in Canada shaped his attitude towards the world and, as he puts it, "has kept my ego down to earth." Modesty combined with a fundamental sense of responsibility to give his very best no matter what the circumstances – and above all, his deep love for his work – are basically what Douglas Kirkland is all about. As long as I've known him he has constantly questioned and reinvented himself as an artist. I never cease to be moved by his talent and dedication. Because he has chosen to make his way through life with a camera in his hands, our journey together is full of surprises and new challenges. Indeed, these pictures are evidence of the great adventure that has been our life together. Each image conjures up a memory of a time and place. We used to think we'd change the world; now all I can add is we've had a great time!

[Françoise Kirkland – 2/07/07: Our 40th Wedding Anniversary]

© Françoise Kirkland