Joe Pugliese Gets the Last Shot at Mad Men
For a photographer like Joe Pugliese, getting to shoot the cast of a show you watch and love is an exciting event; especially with a show like Mad Men that is about to start its last season. For Joe, who has been a fan since the first episode premiered eight years ago, not only was this a great opportunity to be involved with a story he loves it was also a big responsibility. “I wanted to hold it in the regard of an iconic show with these characters that we’ve all gotten to know over these last eight years,” says Joe. “I wanted to approach it with some reverence and have the portraits have some weight to them, and also show the mood of the characters really being introspective and kind of looking back on it.” To do that they incorporated not only the personas of each actor, but also the energy that viewers have come to love and expect from each of the characters.
After seven seasons, these actors have been through a lot together. Not only filming so many seasons of one of the most respected shows ever made, but also innumerable press junkets, photo shoots, and cast panels. They’ve grown to know each other off screen, as much as they've worked on what is created on screen. All of those experiences crystalize into a way of relating to one another that straddles the line between characteristic and intrinsic. Joe noticed that this blurred line can show itself during the shoots. “I was ready to be presented with real life people instead of the characters they play, but you know with a cast photo like this they kind of do go into the character in the session,” says Joe. The way they relate to each other, even off screen, carries some of the residue of their on screen relationships. But when he was able to take them each aside and shoot their portraits they each revealed their authentic selves.
Since the show is entering its last season, Joe wanted to ensure that the photographs would have as much of the familiar Mad Men aesthetic as it did a timeless feeling of class. So when it came to the styling, Joe took the time to ensure the aesthetic would show both angles. “I didn’t want it to feel period,” says Joe. “I wanted to just ride that line between the characters we all know and their actual real life personalities.” By balancing each of these varied elements throughout the shoot, Joe was able to fit an entire history of one of the most consequential contemporary stories into a single series of images. In so doing, he helped create a fitting cap for a series that has touched so many.