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July 27, 2015

24 Stunning Black and White Portraits of Famous People in New York City in the 1970s

“Dear so and so. I’m a young photographer shooting a series of portraits of celebrated New Yorkers. If you could spare a few minutes of your time I would very much like to photograph you.”
Michael Tighe began his career by writing and mailing letters to New York artists and entertainers in 1974. He sent out between 30 and 40 letters a week, hearing back initially from two or three people over the course of two years who, to his surprise, all said yes: Al Hirschfield (New York Times cartoonist), Frank Stella (artist), Allen Funt (Mr. Candid Camera).

Having come up through the ranks as an assistant to studio photographers throughout the city, Tighe landed his first assignment for New York magazine’s “Best Bets” section at just 19. Right after that, he had an opportunity to photograph Andy Warhol for Warhol’s Interview Magazine, a move that would subsequently lead to him photographing regularly for the publication. One of his early shoots for the publication was of Baryshnikov getting a massage. “That was the photograph that really launched my career,” Tighe said.

Allen Ginsberg, East 14th St., New York City, 1975.

Cartoonist Al Hirschfeld.

Andy Warhol in the dining room of The Factor, 1975.

Mike Wallace at his “60 Minutes” office, 1975.

Mikhail Baryshnikov, New York City, 1976.

Helen Gurley Brown at her office, Cosmopolitan, New York City, 1974.

Robert Scull, art collector, New York City, 1974.

Bob Fosse at his office, New York City, 1975.

Ralph Lauren at his showroom, New York City, 1975.

Bill Blass, fashion designer in his showroom, New York City,1975.

George Segal, sculptor at his studio, New Jersey, 1973.

Bobby Short at home, New York City, 1975.

Alan King, comedian, New York City, 1974.

Cliff Gorman, actor on the Westside highway, New York City, 1975.

Frank Stella artist at his studio, New York City, 1975.

Lee Strasberg with sons Adam and David at home, New York City, 1975.

Peter Maas, writer at home, New York City, 1974.

Michael Jackson, New York City 1977.

Diana Vreeland, New York City, 1976.

Tom Waits

Patti Smith

John Travolta, New York City, 1975.

Chevy Chase & John Belushi, New York City, 1976.

Nicolas Cage

(Photos © Michael Tighe, via The Washington Post)


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