Amber Rose Get Comfortable with Robert Maxwell for GQ
In many ways we are all beholden to our identities. How people see us in the world and define our pasts can often dictate where we’re going. It’s so easy to succumb to the pitfalls of popular opinion, but if we stay agile and energized, we don’t have to let exterior forces define who we are. Few figures encapsulate this truth better than Amber Rose. A storied and controversial past has created a narrative of who she is. She doesn’t apologize, she doesn’t make excuses, but she is proud of who she is and what she’s doing. GQ caught up with the young social maven for their latest story and connected her with Robert Maxwell to get portraits that were both personal and provocative, just like Amber Rose herself.
Amber surprised Robert because she was something different than what he expected. “I was expecting a higher maintenance type gal and she was the polar opposite. She was sweet to everybody. It was just a really, really good vibe in the studio that day because of her,” says Robert. “A lot of times people are nice to the photographer and then rude to others, but she was nothing like that. She was just a complete doll.” That kindness bled to other aspects of the shoot, creating a supportive and positive set that made the whole process a delight.
Part of Robert’s assignment was to get a few nude portraits of Rose. She’s not shy of her body at all (why should she be?), but sometimes asking a subject to undress all the way day can be a tricky topic. Most photographers wait until the end of a shoot to suggest the total disrobing, but Robert prefers a different strategy that he finds builds more positive and creative relationships. “Instead of waiting until the end of the shoot to ask, I told her right upfront,” says Robert. “The standard photographer’s approach is to ease into it. I always found people feel hoodwinked. I prefer to tell them right up front. That way they understand I’m being upfront, honest, and transparent. I think to shoot good nudes you need trust. Otherwise they don’t look good. And she’s kind of owning it. She’s completely comfortable, her expression’s comfortable.” That comfort has a lot to do with her love for her own body, but also for the comfortable working relationship that she created with Robert.
One of the most arresting aspects of the shoot is a pair of bunny ears that extends into a veil that Rose is wearing in the blockbuster image from the shoot. It’s such a dominant part of the composition, and something that Robert grabbed as a creative impulse. “I just through it would make for a little bit more interesting portrait,” says Robert. “I brought that on a whim, as I do with a lot of my shoots, I’ll bring my own accessories or props. She loved it. We even put her in a tutu. She was down for everything, that’s what I loved about her.” The flexibility that Amber Rose and Robert Maxwell found with each other on set meant they were able to explore and have fun. That's something we could all learn and bring into our own experiences.
Robert Maxwellâ€™s Eager Collaborator: Dame Helen Mirren
The Academy Awards are rapidly approaching, and with the marinade of glitz and glamour comes the veil of secrecy and wonder about who is going to take home the awards. Covering Variety this week is Helen Mirren, the Best Actress winner in 2007, and she looks like she’s got a secret. With her face covered by a mask, holding a sealed golden envelope, she’s our usher to the surprise and we can’t wait to hear what she has to say.
The mask was photographer Robert Maxwell’s idea. “I just brought that from home, they said she was coming with her own clothes, and I just wanted to make sure that we had interesting things on set,” Robert says. Not every actress would be playful enough to don a mask, but Dame Helen was there with Robert one hundred percent. As Robert tells it, “She said, ‘I love that let’s do it.’”
But, Robert knew he was going to find a willing collaborator in Helen. He’s worked with her before and has consistently been struck by her kindness and artistic generosity. “She’s one of the sweetest, easiest subjects I’ve ever worked with,” says Robert. “She’s one of the sexiest women I’ve ever met.” Not only does she arrive ready to work with Robert, she arrived alone. Usually, public personalities arrive with publicists and managers in tow. Not Helen, she arrived solo, eager to work with Robert. Maybe that’s her secret.
Robert Maxwell Helps New York Magazine Bare All
It is January: gyms all over America are filling up with new health fanatics. From coast to coast, the newly inspired will put their fitness dreams and goals in the hands of competent strangers; the teachers and guides to a world that many ache to be a part of, but don’t know the way. These teachers lead both in direction and by example, showing their students that the lifestyles they’re selling are both beneficial and livable. They are dynamic models of potential and process.
For the latest issue of New York Magazine, Robert Maxwell shot eight of New York’s most beloved fitness instructors for their story “Skin Tight.” Each of these instructors have sculpted themselves over time using the techniques that they make available to their students. Their bodies are the trophies that they’ve worked for, and Robert pointed that out with his framing and content. Each instructor is shot on a bare set (with few exceptions), showing off the fruits of their labor, in poses and action that are representative of their work. When Robert shoots, he’s all about removing artifice. “I’m not really a concept guy,” Robert explains. “I kind of just wait until I’m on set. I feel their personality and kind of try to take a cue from that.” What we’re faced with is the raw representations of the results of hard work. Through Robert's style we see personality and process instead of gilded lilies.
Resolutions are about creating better versions of ourselves. And a lot of the time, that better version looks better naked. These instructors both exemplify and enable that ideal, and Robert made sure nothing got in the way of appreciating and understanding that.
Robert Maxwell Explores Innovation
We are very, very small. In the context of even our Solar System, human beings are such a minute part of the total planetary existence that we’re hardly worth mentioning. Put that into the context of the universe, and we wouldn’t be a footnote. As TIME Magazine reporter Jeffrey Kluger puts it, “There is no reason at all you should care about the universe. For one thing, it doesn’t care a whit about you.” Our presence on the planet is a delicate balance, and any number of untold disasters could threaten our species and force us to find another home, but the closest second choices would take lifetimes to reach initiating unbearable sacrifice and indescribable changes.
Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster, Interstellar, explores these issues on the big screen. They are human questions, existential questions, complicated by hard science and the limits of human technology. To tell his epic, Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain have taken the mantles of characters Christopher wrote assuming the solemn duty of the future of the human race. To ensure humans don’t die out in clouds of dust on a dead planet, they work for a future they’ll never see and can only hope will turn out to be worth their sacrifices. The complication of Nolan’s epic is the limits of our science, and TIME Magazine dove deep into those issues with their cover story, “The Art of Science,” and Robert Maxwell was on hand to shoot the movie’s director and stars for TIME.
We know that Robert gets out of the way of his subjects. Even though he is an energetic person, his photographs have a stillness to them. Taking on the sobering duty of saving humanity, Interstellar’s cast stands with statesmanlike responsibility. It’s an potentially crushing task that these characters had to take on, and Robert is sure to infuse that into the photographs.
Adding to the stark and sobering quality is the choice to have the cover be black and white. This isn’t something that happens very often. Robert’s stillness translates perfectly to the more classic aesthetic, but magazines generally prefer to use color on their covers. Not so this time, as Robert’s photograph had the strength to carry the cover. “I was just kind of excited because it is a little bit more rare to be able to get a black and white image published on covers,” Robert explains. “It’s happened just a few times in my career.”
Robert Maxwell Introduces Eddie Redmayne
The Ice Bucket Challenge gripped the nation this Summer, inspiring thousands of participants to get involved with raising money and awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Before the disease was known by that name, British theoretical physicist and cosmologist was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease related to ALS. It was to be a terminal diagnosis, expected to claim his life within two years. He was 21. Today, he is 72, and although he is almost entirely paralyzed, continues to stay active in the scientific community.
The upcoming film, The Theory of Everything, looks to tell Stephen Hawking’s story through his time earning his PhD during and after his diagnosis, and the relationship with his first wife, Jane Wilde. Regardless of the emotional dexterity needed to play the role, the physical demands are extreme, and Eddie Redmayne was cast to portray Hawking’s entire physical and emotional journey for theatergoers, and Robert Maxwell was recruited to capture Eddie for the cover of Variety. For all the energy and style around The Theory of Everything being a faithful period piece, the image that Robert took of Eddie for Variety is a very contemporary representation of the young, virile actor. This is not a mistake. “I tend to keep things really simple… I don’t think a whole lot about the shoot before I shoot,” explains Robert. He deals with the person in the room, and doesn’t try to guild the lily. “I feel their personality and kind of try to take a cue from that.”
Eddie’s other major release this year, Jupiter Rising, is an interplanetary SciFi epic full of zero gravity battles and futuristic weaponry. But The Theory of Everything is an intimate drama about the relatable struggles of life. That focused, intense energy is calibrated perfectly for Robert’s own temperament. “I’m a loud guy that takes quiet pictures,” explains Robert with a healthy laugh. Sophie Haig, another member of the B&A family was on hand to groom Eddie and add to his effortless look.
Eddie Redmayne has been on international movie screens for the better part of a decade, but The Theory of Everything represents his first major lead role. In a way, we’re being introduced to him for the first time, and Robert’s image is the perfect introduction. It is a personal introduction, almost as if we’re mid conversation with the actor. It’s intensely open and available. Almost a moment stolen from an impossible history. How does Robert do it? “I don’t know how I do it, I just do it,” he explains. The photographer’s job is to capture and present moments that will never happen again. But Robert’s images give us the opportunity to see those moments, but also offer experiences we could never have ourselves.
The Theory of Everything opens November 7th.
Robert Maxwell Can Make It Work
Part of collaborating is that plans change along the way. The key is to roll with those changes and make them work. Ideas aren't sacred: the work is.
That's exactly what Robert Maxwell faced on his latest cover shoot for Variety with Rosie O'Donnell. He had a plan, but quickly discovered it wasn't going to work. Despite that, he still had to get the shot. So he got moving. According to Robert, “Rosie said, ‘You’ve got 45 minutes... we’ve still got to come up with an amazing picture. Good luck.’” Robert tells this with a laugh, looking back. It was activating. Empowering. Like him, Rosie was used to being in moving, creative environments and they worked it out together. “It was soothing, it told me she understood the situation. That’s all I needed. Someone who understood why I was there,” he said. As soon as he started shooting, everything took shape immediately. “She’s a pro. I didn’t have to say anything. As soon as she got on set we just started shooting. She knew what to do,” he says.
What resulted is a cover of Rosie looking as powerful as ever, with a look on her face that’s almost a dare to mess with her. You can try, but she’s not going to take it. But there’s still a hint of something else in there: she understands.
Robert Maxwell Finds Quiet Potential
The last time Robert Maxwell was in New Orleans was before hurricane Katrina hit the city, and even nine years later, the change is obvious. It's quieter there than it was before. The pride is still there, and the native love for the place goes unchanged, but the tourists have dwindled and left behind a silence and stillness. “It broke my heart,” Robert explains.
He was there on assignment from New York Times Magazine to photograph Quvenzhané Wallis, the unbelievably young actress who burst onto the scene in 2013 with her Academy Award Nomination for Beasts of the Southern Wild at the remarkable age of 10. Unlike the rest of his visit to New Orleans, his experience with the young actress was not heartbreaking at all. Instead, he found something beautiful.
The Wallises invited Robert into their home to photograph their daughter. What he found was no actress, no stage mom, no ignored siblings. "I spent about an hour and a half, two hours with her father in the backyard,” Robert tells it. “What a solid, solid foundation that little girl’s got. Unbelievably so. Discipline, love, morals. It was really refreshing.”
What we see in Robert’s photograph is the stillness and quiet that Robert felt on his visit to the city. Quvenzhané is at the family pool, her pants rolled up, her legs in the water. She has scripts to the side and one open on her lap. She's in control. She's young, we can see how young she is, and we know it's her future on her lap, her choice to pick one of these scripts to work on. After an Oscar Nomination and the lead in the upcoming Holiday Blockbuster Annie, she has her choice to make, and in the rarest of moments, we see this young girl in that decision.
What is remarkable, almost alarming as a viewer, is to see this girl in this decision alone. Her family supports her and her choices, and always have, but there is no pressure to make any decisions or go in any directions that she doesn’t want to go in. “I was in a wonderful home with a young girl that whether she wants to be a movie star or anything else will achieve it,” Robert says. Her parents don't feel or express the need to direct her away from where she wants to go. Robert met the rest of the family, and each of Quvenzhané’s siblings have their own hobbies that are equally supported in the Wallis home. "They each have their own thing," Quvenzhané explains to NYTimes Magazine.
In their plot of New Orleans, Robert found the same quiet and stillness as the rest of New Orleans. But in this home, it's a quiet support, a quiet collective to bolster every dream. Whether it's the little league game on Saturday, or a big Hollywood opening. Every Wallis will have their moment, but today belongs to Quvenzhané.
Robert Maxwell shows what a Normal Heart is in W Magazine
Larry Kramer wrote The Normal Heart after witnessing his community, the New York City gay community, ravaged by a disease that was largely ignored by the population and politicians of the era.
In many ways, the AIDS crisis was America’s first introduction to their gay population. Before this parade of tragedy, homosexuals were merely loud, over expressive deviants. Suddenly, bathed in suffering and death, America met the humanity behind those strangers and were faced with an uncomfortable truth: these are real people. A truth that America, as a country, is still coming to terms with.
Robert Maxell worked towards highlighting that tension with his recent spread in W Magazine. Robert got the two leads from HBO’s film version of the Kramer play, Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer, in front of his lens. What he shows us is that tense humanity, a microchasm of the moment from 30 years ago.
What we see is a near-mirrored reflection of the roles they play in the movie. Mark, as the ferocious Ned Weeks, looks out with fire ready to pounce in defense of what he loves. Matt Bomer, conversely, is Felix Turner, facing inward as a figure with subtler, hidden energies. The composition is a shadow of their turns on screen, but it all happened effortlessly.
Robert describes his process by saying, “I tend to keep things really simple… I don’t think a whole lot about the shoot before I shoot.” He allows the image to come from the subjects, “I feel their personality and kind of try to take a cue from that.” What he got was a supremely natural look at two men whose experience got so close to their characters in the moment of capturing the photograph, that the distinction is purely academic.
Three artists come together and perform their fluent arts. Robert explains the alchemy by simply saying, “I don’t know how I do it, I just do it.”
Inc. Unbuttons With Robert Maxwell and Partners & Spade
Inc. tapped Robert Maxwell to capture Partners & Spade, the creative-branding muscle for J.Crew, Target, Warby Parker, and Shinola, among others. "It was a smooth shoot," Maxwell recalled. "Both Andy [Spade] and Anthony [Sperduti] were affable guys who took direction well, and Anthony was already familiar with my work and had kind things to say. I was really flattered."
The photographer used a couple of different setups at Pier 59, each with simple lighting. "Inc. wanted the cover a little less buttoned-up and business-looking, which I tried to interpret through body language and the clothes we put the men in," Maxwell noted. "To achieve the right stance, it's give and take ... sometimes they did things on their own that I liked, and sometimes I told them, 'Move this, move that,' so it became a team effort." Other team members included B&A stylist Don Sumada and Gregg Hubbard for grooming.
B&A Talents Selected for AI-AP's American Photography 30
AI-AP flagged a group of Bernstein & Andriulli talents as American Photography 30 "Selected" winners.
The list includes: Jamie Chung's florals for Document Journal; Joe Pugliese's picture of musician Jack White for The Hollywood Reporter; Stephen Wilkes's haunting image of The Star Jet Roller Coaster, submerged in the Atlantic Ocean after falling from the Seaside Heights pier during Hurricane Sandy; Erwin Olaf's much-talked-about photo of model Ymre Stiekema for Vogue Netherlands; Chloe Aftel's "Agender," a portrait of the movement by the same name for San Francisco Magazine; and Robert Maxwell's black-and-white shot of future NBA star Andrew Wiggins for GQ. Michael Turek completes the B&A collection with a pair of images – a landscape of Verbier Ski Slopes in Switzerland for Condé Nast Traveller and a mountain gorilla chasing a Rwandan guide printed in Porter magazine.
Submissions by "Selected" winners appear online and in the AP30 book, to be released come November.
Broadway's 'Of Mice and Men' by Robert Maxwell
Robert Maxwell captured James Franco and Chris O'Dowd to promote the upcoming stage production of "Of Mice and Men," both men's Broadway debuts.
The photographer traveled to L.A. only to learn that O'Dowd, who plays Lennie, was under the weather. "I promised him that I could have him in and out in less than hour," Maxwell recalled, "and within that hour we tried several poses to show different degrees of how incapable his character is. I didn't bring [the emotion] out of Chris – he's an amazing actor. The art director told him a few keywords and Chris did it. It was incredible to watch."
Franco, as expected, was "funny and engaging," Maxwell added. Asked about his process, he noted that he approaches actors in-character as he would a celebrity portrait: "Everyone gets the same treatment from me."
Robert Maxwell Shoots Future NBA Star Andrew Wiggins for GQ
Robert Maxwell photographed "Next Year's #1 NBA Draft Pick," Andrew Wiggins, for GQ's November issue. "He's 18 years old and he's already been selected as an All-American without playing any college basketball games," explained Maxwell. "But he was shy – a sweet kid – and accommodating."
Maxwell set up the shoot in a gymnasium at University of Kansas, where Wiggins is a Jayhawk ... for now. "I had him hanging on the rim, even one-handed, and he had no problem doing it," the photographer said. "He held it until I got the shot, and it hurts! I'm not going to lie; I tried and I couldn't do it for more than a couple of seconds." Maxwell and his team extended a boom about 20 feet in the air to light the frame: "Normal equipment doesn't go that high. We had this brilliant assistant from Kansas who was used to working on film sets and he put together this thing, which was pretty fantastic."
Reflecting on his time spent with Wiggins, Maxwell hopes the blooming athlete keeps "his personality in a year, two years, five years from now. He's only going to stay at Kansas for a bit, then he'll be drafted into the NBA as the most-hyped rookie since LeBron. I'm hopeful it won't change him."
Entertainment Weekly's 'Wicked' B&A Trio
Entertainment Weekly brought together three B&A talents for its Reunions Issue featuring "Wicked" costars Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. "You can see the chemistry between them in the black-and-white portrait," explained photographer Robert Maxwell. "And the other thing that struck me was the amount of people in the studio – it was the biggest crowd I've ever seen on set."
"It was all part of the thrill of Broadway," remarked John Moore, stylist. "Also, it's similar to the anticipation surrounding a high school or college reunion ... where attendees want to dress their best." EW's art director asked for a simple and classic aesthetic, so Moore paired rag & bone and ripped Seven denim with a Marc Jacobs cutout-sleeves-sweater and a Three Dots tank top. "It's uncomplicated, but still current and cool," he noted. "It was also about getting pieces to fit them – Kristin is so tiny. She and I had a fitting the night before, which was great because I could find out what worked and what she liked, and I've styled Idina in the past."
Prop stylist Jesse Nemeth rounded out the trio, pulling stumps, stools, and brooms to add an element of Wickedness to the images. "It was a great time," Moore said. "Robert is one of the finest portrait photographers ... amid those people worried about the details, he knows exactly how the photograph will turn out." Maxwell remarked that teaming up with his B&A brethren is always a pleasure.
Rebel Wilson, Beautiful and Sexy for New York Magazine
Robert Maxwell has "a lot of bounce in [his] step" following the release of his second cover this month for New York Magazine. (He photographed Leonardo DiCaprio for the fall preview issue.) This week, Maxwell's picture of actress Rebel Wilson fronts the mag and more of his photos accompany Lynn Hirschberg's article "The Misfit: Can Rebel Wilson Create the American Sitcom's First Genuine Outcast?"
The shoot left behind Wilson's potential "misfit" moniker. "Jody [Quon, New York's photography director,] said she wanted Rebel to look beautiful and sexy ... and I think we killed it," remarked Maxwell. "When Rebel got on set, after the first shot, she turned around and said, 'I've never felt so beautiful in my life.' And I knew we were going to have a good day."
"It's the sum of many parts to make a great image," the photographer continued. "It's not just great lighting or having a good eye; it's having a great crew – a great makeup artist, a great stylist, and a great prop designer or set designer. When all of those elements come together, you end up with great results."
Wardrobe stylist: Hayley Atkin at The Wall Group
Set design: Chime Serra at The Magnet Agency
Hair: Campbell McAuley for Wella Professionals/Solo Artists
Makeup: Jo Baker at The Magnet Agency using Urban Decay Cosmetics
Nails: Ashlie Johnson for CHANEL at The Wall Group
Robert Maxwell Shoots Leonardo DiCaprio for New York Magazine
Robert Maxwell photographed the enchanting Leonardo DiCaprio – in black and white – for the front of New York Magazine's fall preview issue. "I was actually asked to shoot in color, but I said, 'Would you mind if I tried black and white, too?' " recounted Maxwell. "When they made the initial edit, they were looking at the color shots; however, someone in the photo heavens helped me out and pushed for a black-and-white cover, which is rare. It's happened only a few times in my career."
He approached the commission in the same manner that he takes on all portraits: "I simply try to flatter people and in this case, I didn't have to work real hard at it ... it makes all the sense in the world why [DiCaprio] is such a heartthrob." Maxwell describes himself as "not really a concept guy," who doesn't mull over his gigs beforehand. "I wait until I'm on set, I feel his or her personality, and try to take a cue from that," he explained. "[DiCaprio] was very open-minded, which I appreciated."
After two decades behind the lens, Maxwell still experiences a rush upon seeing his completed art at the newsstand. "It's not as exciting as the very first time I was published ... that night, in fact, it was probably for two or three nights, I couldn't sleep because I knew my images were coming out. I slept after the Leo cover came out," he remarked with a laugh, "but it still feels great to be working with good clients, good talent, and to have my work treated well. I'm not jaded yet."
Robert Maxwell Treads New Ground in Outside Magazine
Robert Maxwell photographs one of the cover stories in the April issue of Outside Magazine. Robert has been a long-time collaborator with the magazine and his stunning black & white portraits have graced the pages of Outside since 2003. This latest photo editorial focuses on the new barefoot-running craze and the controversy that its stirred up in the running community.
Publication: Outside Magazine
Photo Editor: Amy Silverman
Creative Director: Hannah McCaughey
Photographer: Robert Maxwell
Grooming: Trevor Bowden
Set Design: Lisa Edsalv >
Robert Maxwell Photographs Sheryl Sandberg for TIMERobert Maxwell shoots Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO and one of the most powerful women in business, for the cover of the latest issue of TIME Magazine. Sandberg is the picture of confidence wearing a simple red dress standing in front of a bare background.
The title of Time's story, "Don't Hate Her Because She's Successful," speaks to Sandberg's rise to the position of overseeing operations at a $66 billion tech company and her mission to reboot feminism. In a time where women executives are still rare, Sandberg challenges the status quo and implores women to challenge themselves and pursue their career ambitions.