Paul O’Connor

The Fine Art of Photographing Fine Art

When photographer Paul O’Connor moved to Taos, NM, in the late 1980s, he set himself the task of photographing the last of the group known as the Taos Moderns, and then moved on to the wave of contemporary artists who arrived from Los Angeles in the ’70s, including Larry Bell, Ken Price, and Ron Davis. He talks to us about the art of portraiture and recalls memorable encounters with Price (who would not let him take a picture for eight years), Dennis Hopper (who would not lend him his watch), and Walter Chappell (who came to the door stark naked).

O’Connor explains his own philosophy of portraiture (diametrically opposed to that of a commercial whiz like Annie Liebovitz, for example) and offers advice on photographing artwork—yes, you can do it yourself and get good results with the aid of things like tungsten lamps, polarizing gel, a tripod, and other accoutrements. And you might even save a bundle.

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