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The Questionnaire : George Holz by Carole Schmitz




Born in Tennessee, Georges Holz, who as a child dreamed of being a photojournalist, graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California before becoming one of Helmut Newton’s few assistants, his guidance would profoundly influence the budding photographer’s career. “Working with Helmut wasn’t like he was handing you your career on a silver platter. But we regularly showed him our work and he didn’t hesitate to tell us if it sucked, even though he was always very polite,” recalls the photographer.

Very soon, pushed by Newton, Georges flew to Europe where he worked between Milan and Paris, photographing beauty, accessories and fashion for major magazines such as Lei, Vogue Italia, French Elle, Madame Figaro and L’Officiel, but also for Mademoiselle and Harper’s Bazaar in New York. My first job in Italy was for Donna magazine. I was doing still lifes of shoes and I was known for shoes and accessories. Those were great years.

In the 1980s, he returned to New York, where he opened his studio on Lafayette Street and from there he travelled the world.

Known for his B&W art nudes -a work he started in the 80’s and regularly exhibited in galleries and museums around the world-, he also participated in exhibitions such as “Original Sin” and “Three Boys from Pasadena – A Tribute to Helmut Newton”, with two Art Center alumni, Just Loomis and Mark Arbeit.

For him, his career stems from his photography and vice versa.

The photographer has also received many prestigious awards, including a Grammy (for his work on Suzanne Vega’s Days of Open Hand album) and a Clio.

From Madona to Britney Spears, passing by Brad Pitt, Jack Nicholson or Joaquin Phoenix (to name but a few), all the great stars of the world of cinema, music, television, sports and politics have passed before his lens. Moreover, in 2015, he published a monograph: “Holz Hollywood: 30 Years of Portraits”, a real Who’s Who covering three decades.

Often between two planes, Georges Holz is constantly working on new projects, whether it is an advertising campaign, personal work, exhibitions or conferences. For him, assignments, whether editorial or advertising, give him unique access to subjects that he would not normally tackle, and he approaches them as his own personal work. A lesson that Helmut Newton taught him, “He never drew a line in his practice of photography, he approached everything as if one day he could have this quality of art.

To clear his mind, when his schedule allows it, he likes to travel the American roads in his Airstream 58.


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Your first photographic click ?
Georges Holz : Family photos and pets. From about the time I was age 10, I disappeared from the family photo albums as I was usually the one taking the photos!

The man of images who inspires you ?
Georges Holz : Helmut Newton (whom I assisted in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s), Edward Weston, Man Ray, Irving Penn, and Guy Bourdin.

The image you would have liked to make ?
Georges Holz : Tom Kelly’s “Marilyn Monroe, #2 Red Velvet Calendar Photo”.

The one you regret you didnt make ?
Georges Holz : Not accepting the assignment to photograph Madonna again on the set of “Like a Virgin” video set in Venice. I chose to accept my first assignment with Franca Sozzani for Lei Magazine that same day.

The one that moved you the most ?
Georges Holz : Photographing Brad Pitt fly fishing in Montana.

And the one that made you angry ?
Georges Holz : Trying to get a great portrait of Clint Eastwood on his golf course, and all he wanted to do was play golf!

 If among your images you had to choose only one.
Georges Holz : Claire with Moosewings

A key image in your personal pantheon ?
Georges Holz : Steven Spielberg.

 The quality needed to be a good photographer ?
Georges Holz : For me, it’s very important to know the “craft “ of photography. You must have technical proficiency so that it’s second nature. This will allow you to be free to engage your subject and be more spontaneous. Never be afraid to experiment, and be open for the unexpected and happy mistakes.

The secret of the perfect image, if it exists ?
Georges Holz : The decisive moment, the perfect light, and always some luck.

The person you would dream of photographing ?
Georges Holz : Princess Diana, Barak Obama, and Kate Moss.

 An essential photo book ?
Georges Holz : “The Family of Man” (Created by Edward Steichen, with a prologue by Carl Sandburg ) which was my first photo book.

Your first camera ?
Georges Holz : Minolta SRT 101.

The one you use today ?
Georges Holz : Pentax 6×7, Deardorff 11×14, Fuji GFX 100S, and Nikon D-800.

Social media wise, are Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok or snapchat ?
Georges Holz : Primarily Instagram: @georgeholzofficial it’s the most image oriented for me, but I really don’t like all the censorship.

Color or B&W ?
Georges Holz : Black and White, although I’ve always been known for my work in color too.

Daylight or artificial light ?
Georges Holz : I love both daylight, studio lighting and available darkness. I love to mix light sources as well.

Your favorite drug ?
Georges Holz : Maple syrup from our Maple trees, and hard apple cider from our orchard.

The best way to disconnect for you ?
Georges Holz : Fly fishing standing knee deep in a mountain stream.

Your greatest quality ?
Georges Holz : Being immature, it keeps me young.

An image to illustrate a new banknote ?
Georges Holz : Jack Nicholson.

The job you would not have liked to do ?
Georges Holz : I did a shoot once on a cruise ship on the stormy Atlantic Ocean and everyone got sea sick.

Your greatest extravagance as a photographer ?
Georges Holz : Having the time and place to work on my personal work.

The city, country or culture you still dont know and dream of discovering ?
Georges Holz : Japan.

The place you never get tired of ?
Georges Holz : Our farm in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York.

Your biggest regret ?
Georges Holz : Not buying a loft in New York City back in the 1980’s when it was affordable.

The most photogenic city according to you ?
Georges Holz : Portofino, Italy.

If God existed would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him ?
Georges Holz : Both. I alway try and get a portrait or selfie together with celebrities after I photograph them. God would be no different.

The image that represents for you the current state of the world ?
Georges Holz : The painting The Scream, by Edvard Munch.

What is missing in today’s world ?
Georges Holz : Honesty.

And if everything was to be remade ?
Georges Holz : Clothing would be optional.

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