Windblown Jackie

It was late in the afternoon, around four thirty, blue sky with a slight breeze. I had just finished photographing portfolio shots for Joy Smith, a pretty model who lived on East Eighty-eighth Street. As a fool for beauty, I was not getting paid, so I figured I might as well shoot in Central Park across from Jackie’s apartment in hopes of getting lucky—AND BOY DID I! 

Upon leaving the park, we caught a glimpse of Jackie leaving her apartment through the back door on Eighty-fifth Street, heading toward Madison Avenue. Joy could not believe it was Jackie, and I excitedly assured her that it was. 

Walking a distance behind her, Joy and I followed Jackie on Eighty-fifth Street to Madison Avenue, where Jackie made a left going north. I decided not to run in front of her, because if I did, she would have recognized me and put on those dark glasses. So with Joy, I decided to hop a cab to catch up to Jackie. “Follow that woman!” I told the cab driver. When we caught up with her between Eighty-ninth and Ninetieth Streets, I rolled down the rear window and shot two profiles of her walking. She did not see me or hear the shutter click due to the noisy New York traffic. Suddenly and without me asking, at the corner of Ninetieth Street, the cab driver blew his horn! Jackie turned and I pressed the shutter release for the third time, creating what Henri Cartier-Bresson called a decisive moment. The father of photojournalism, Cartier-Bresson is one of my favorite photographers and the crème de la crème of street photographers. He was an early adopter of the 35mm format and candid photography. This decisive moment photo, which I titled, Windblown Jackie, is my favorite, most published picture and the best-selling print of all time at my fine art galleries worldwide. It’s a superior picture, like DaVinci’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa. It embodies all the qualities of my paparazzi approach: exclusive, unrehearsed, off-guard, spontaneous, no appointments—the only game. Jackie has a slight smile on her lips as well as in her eyes. The dramatic, soft backlighting and the over-the-shoulder composition show Jackie at her sexiest. She was casually dressed, wore no makeup, and her hair was windblown, which added to her raw, natural beauty. With a bit of luck, and all the elements working with me, I captured this iconic photo; outside, in the street, from a cab; it could never have been produced in the sterile environment of a photo studio. Jackie responded casually, not knowing it was me, as my camera covered my face. Then, after I got out of the cab, she recognized me and immediately put on her sunglasses. 

After capturing this iconic image, I photographed her from Ninetieth Street to Ninety-first Street. I handed one of my prefocused cameras with a wide-angle lens to Joy and asked her to try and photograph Jackie and me together, which she did. Both Joy and I were laughing and clicking away until a furious Jackie turned toward me and said, “Are you pleeeased with yourself?” I knew then it was time to stop and said, “Yes, thank you,” and we left. 

Clearly, at the time I did not know it was going to become the most purchased, most recognized, most talked about, most significant photo I ever captured.