It has only been 10 years or so, but it is finally time I publicly apologize to Charlize Theron. I am big fan of the Academy Award winning actress, model and philanthropist (donate here), but I did her wrong. It is kind of a funny misunderstanding.
I was new to New York, I had no work or clients
yet. So I spent the day trying to take interesting photos in Central
Park; old people, couples, NY life. I was trying to do candid
photography in the tradition of Elliot Erwitt or Joel Meyerowitz.
Now if you follow this blog, then you know I never post candid
photography. Frankly because I don't have the disposition to do it. I
am way better at taking photos of people who want to be in front of the
So I am in Central Park and I have
been taking photos for a few hours. I have my Contax G2 film camera and
a standard 45mm lens. For the last half hour, I have been sitting on
the bank of the pond taking photos of people rowing. I am trying to be
patient and get something good, but it isn't working. In my head, and
this is the fashion photographer in me, I am thinking that I would love
to get a cute woman rowing a guy on the lake. Nothing doing. I get up
to leave and I see a super hot woman and a guy signing up for the
boats. I am excited and sit back in my spot. A few minutes later, she
is rowing this guy right past me.
Now, you would think after a
half hour I would have a pretty good idea of how to get a good shot
from this position. Apparently not. Check the photo below. I blurred
it a bunch extra here on purpose, for her privacy. But look at that
boring composition and she is tiny in the frame with no definitive
expression. No feeling, stagnant. I blew it.
this point, all is good. She saw me take a photo and gave me this
beautiful smile. Of course, I am an idiot and didn't get that on film
and still have NO IDEA the gorgeous beauty is the famous actress. So she
rows away. Here is where I make my mistake. I think I will try again.
I walk down over the bridge and wait on another bank. A bit later she
passes by again. This time even further away and I have no zoom lens or
anything, so I get nothing. But she sees my again. I guess she puts 2 +
2 together that I am a photographer and probably assumes I am
paparazzi. I mean, it makes sense. She is super famous and I am
following her with a professional camera. Well, you could just tell
that I seriously ruined her day. In hindsight, it was a moment where
she went from being free and having fun, to being in a fish bowl.
figured it out about half hour later. I had left immediately, but I
continued through Central Park. I overheard the Rangers talking about
her on the lake. After that, it made a lot more sense to me.
course, I had no intention of upsetting her. My bad, I am not good
with the whole recognizing the most famous people on earth. Regardless,
I made her day worse through photography and as a photographer I hate
To make matters worse, I did have the rare chance to
apologize face to face. Let her know it was just a misunderstanding.
Several years ago, I was backstage at a Coldplay concert. Just standing there. This time I managed to recognize Michael Stipe
walk right past me. And just then, Sandra is like, " Whoa, don't turn
around. Charlize Theron is back to back with you." There she was.
Super gorgeous and 2 inches from me. First thing that pops into my head
is that this is my chance to apologize. But I wimped out. I thought,
what if it just pisses her off to remember me pissing her off.
what's done is done. She probably doesn't even remember anymore, while
it is something that oddly sticks with me. It makes you think about
perspective in a couple ways.
All that being said and in the anonymity of the internet: Charlize Theron, I am Sorry.
Please consider giving to Charlize's Africa Outreach Project.
I just made a donation and it was super easy. Took like 30 seconds,
they take credit cards and you can even text in your donation.