Platon Brings Vanity Fair "Out To Lunch"
Vanity Fair’s long-running series, Out To Lunch, provides intimate interviews between Vanity Fair and some of the most recognizable faces in American culture. The interviews serve as a kind of cultural portrait, and Platon teamed up with the magazine to create actual portraits alongside each piece.
The first series of four images include Playwright Tom Stoppard, Musician Questlove, Chef Andre Soltner, and Entertainment Lawyer Allen Grubman.
Although Platon’s signature has always been intimate portraiture, there’s an element to this Out To Lunch series that has a softer side than what we’ve come to expect from Platon. His work has been a study in power and provocatism for so long that the warmth these images offer is remarkable. And it's built into each composition by hand. “The idea is that you are sitting at lunch with someone and they’re leaning forward towards you on the table, engaged with you,” explains Platon. “I’m trying to create that moment of connection. That moment is everything. So you really get a sense of what it’s like to meet that person.” These figures are each leaning in on a wooden table that Platon built himself and has had for many years. It becomes the basis for these revealing portraits, and a common ground on which to build these interactions.
Each photograph shares particular elements: the table, the soft pink background, the full but subtle light. Each of these elements is carefully regulated from one portrait to the next, and this is on purpose. It creates a sort of visual barometer, removing the excess variables so that we can get a better sense of the subject. Platon explains: “When you create a visual language you start to realize the differences between pieces. If the lighting changed, if the background changed everything changed every time, then you’re really not able to focus on the person’s character as much. You’re forced to look at what I really want you to observe.” By offering his viewers a baseline, Platon allows us to edit out the elements that are the same and spot the difference more easily. We see the angularity of Stoppard’s expression, the brightness of Grubman’s eyes, Chef Soltner’s smile, and the inward moment taken by Questlove. Each of these elements has been drawn out specifically by Platon’s calibration; these are the moment’s you’re meant to see.
That quiet revelation with Questlove was a particular surprise. “No one would ever think of him as being shy or a gentle person,” says Platon. “He has this big hair, he’s got this big statuesque figure, he’s a drummer, he’s a DJ; you’d think Questlove is a force of nature as a personality, but actually he’s very gentle as a person.” Platon takes what he learns about his subjects in the room and ensures they’re translated directly into the image so that we can learn what he has learned, so we can see what he sees.
This series, Out To Lunch, is constructed to transport us into intimate moments with famous faces. Platon’s responsibility then is to achieve that intimacy and translate it through his lens to us. And that’s precisely what he does.