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Matinee: Larry Fink Going 'Hell Hog for the High Wire' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

9 January 2016

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 117th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Larry Fink Going 'Hell Hog for the High Wire'.

Just a little over 11 minutes long, this piece on photographer Larry Fink charmed us from the start. That's because the man who knows how to work a room of celebrities is shown spilling to three college kids who crashed the opening reception of his show.

You can tell, right off the bat, that Fink loves people.

The kids ask for some advice about doing their photography projects for school. He tells them not to ignore the non-project things they come across. A project shouldn't exclude life, he tells them.

"Life is an experience," he says. "It's about hunger. It's about excitement, it's about the senses. It's about you, man, not about anything else."

Fink is articulate. Fink is smart. Fink is fun.

Fink is articulate. Fink is smart. Fink is fun.

The narrator John Thornton, "an impish-looking dude" as Fink calls him, is a photographer himself. Even if his camera is "small."

Thornton asks the photographers who attended the opening what they think about Fink's work, mainly Oscar party candids. "Camera absence," one sums it up. It's as if the camera isn't there at these parties and the participants go about their evening oblivious to Fink.

Of course, they aren't completely oblivious. They aren't posing, true. But "by definition of where they are," Fink admits, they know they are being photographed.

Fink is smart. Fink is articulate. Fink is fun.

And nobody has to worry that Fink will shoot their bad side.

His wife Martha Posner, a sculptor, talks about their homestead in Pennsylvania surrounded by forest. She describes their life as "high-low." A party in Hollywood one moment and shoveling out the barn the next.

She also paints a picture of Fink at work. His big film camera, his off-camera flash. But his subjects just see him, not the camera. They know him. It's the human connection, not the photo opp.

Caravaggio, famous for his high contrast chiaroscuro painting style, inspires his lighting, he says. "Lust after them," he pretends Caravaggio advises him. He knows his art history, his wife confides.

Fink is fun. Fink is articulate. Fink is smart.

Thornton wonders if Fink has exceptional empathy. Posner says he has deep empathy for his subject. Fantastic empathy.

But you knew that from how he related to the college kids. And the impish guy following him around with a video camera.

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