Platon Breaks Through to Steven Spielberg for Wired
Steven Spielberg is one of the most recognizable and impactful living American figures. As someone who stands behind a camera, that’s an unprecedented accomplishment and one that wasn’t lost on Platon. When Wired approached the photographer to shoot Speilberg for their cover, he was meeting something of a hero. “We all grew up watching his movies,” says Platon. “We still watch them. I told him that not only had I grown up watching them, but as an English kid it was one of the first introductions to Americana that I had. So it helped focus my ideals of what I dreamed to do with my life.” Spielberg’s films have shaped so much of modern American storytelling, and have changed the way that all storytellers tell their stories. Platon tells his stories visually, and as he rewatches all of Spielberg’s movies with his own children he's noticing again how impactful they have been for him.
Spielberg is not his movies, they’re an expression of him, but when Platon sees Spielberg he sees that legacy. That legacy runs parallel to figures like Bruce Springsteen and James Dean. Showing that was crucial to Platon’s vision. “I wanted to show that there’s this gritty, cool swagger that he actually has through his movies, and it’s not normally seen in portraits of him,” Platon says. “A lot of photographers are often intimidated by this man’s stature. He’s not an intimidating guy at all, but when you photograph Spielberg you could arguably say that he’s the most successful film director ever. So I think people often don’t have the confidence to get in there and connect with him on a human level and break through the brand.” The challenge that these other photographers is confronting is how to break through that brand, but because of Platon’s experience as a photographer he knows exactly how to do it. He did it with Vladimir Putin. He did it with Bill Clinton. He did it with Muammar Gaddafi. Platon knows how to break through.
So how does he do it? “I speak to people on the level, on a human level. Really the brand and the power: it doesn’t mean shit to me,” he says. Once you speak to a subject on their own level the artifice falls away. With Spielberg it took some effort. “I had to push him hard, but it was such an amazing connection we had and I found him to be dynamic, cool, this exciting personality that’s really humble, actually, but also still has the playful quality of a kid. And that’s what we tapped into,” Platon explains. “There was someone on set that said, ‘I’ve never heard anyone talk to him like that.’ I’m barking orders at him with excitement and they were just delighted and horrified at the same time. He loved it, we connected, we got it, we’re cool.”