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Straight Shooting With Bert Stern

Legendary photographer Bert Stern talks about shooting Club Monaco’s spring campaign, a series of 20 retro-inspired black-and-white images.

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Photographer Bert Stern is prolific, to say the least. At 80, he has been clicking away for the last 64 years — snapping celebrities, models and everything in between. He may be best known for a series of photographs he took of Marilyn Monroe six weeks before her death in 1962, which he re-created with Lindsay Lohan for New York magazine in 2008.

But when it comes to discussing his work, Stern is self-effacing. “I guess that’s what I do,” he says, matter-of-factly.

This story first appeared in the March 23, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Stern’s latest project is for Club Monaco’s spring campaign, a series of 20 retro-inspired black-and-white images that will be celebrated Thursday at the retailer’s Fifth Avenue outpost.

WWD caught up with Stern before his big night.

WWD: Why did you decide to do this campaign?

Bert Stern: I just think it was a good job, a decent job. It seemed appropriate at the time to do it.

WWD: You worked with models in this campaign, but have shot many celebrities over the years. How is shooting one different from the other?

B.S.: Celebrities, you kind of know who they are before you meet them. Models are many times people you’ve never met before. It’s a different experience [for that reason]. But in a way, it is the same because you are [still] taking a picture of a body.

WWD: Would you say models are more photogenic?

B.S.: Some models are more photogenic. I think models are trained to pose. [But] personalities are more interesting as characters.

WWD: What personalities were your favorites to shoot?

B.S.: Marilyn Monroe is always the most popular. Sophia Loren was interesting. I seem to like Italians.

WWD: Club Monaco is throwing a cocktail party in your honor. Do you go out often these days?

B.S.: No, I don’t. I rarely go to cocktail parties.

WWD: Why not?

B.S.: They are very noisy and people ask you questions and I find it difficult. Things that are that much of an effort are not always appealing.

WWD: Are you at least excited for this one, since you are the guest of honor?

B.S.: Yeah, of course. That’s why I have my new suit, my new Armani. It’s a chance to wear a suit.

WWD: You’ve had such a long career. What keeps you motivated to continue working?

B.S.: When someone offers me a job or a shooting, if it’s interesting and it appeals to me, I tend to accept it.

WWD: Is there anything left you’d like to do?

B.S.: Archive all of my pictures. I have to find a place to put all of them. There are just so many. I mean, I started with just one box and now I have all of these boxes.

WWD: Is there anything left that you’d like to do in terms of shooting?

B.S.: It would be fun to do a fashion shoot on the moon. When I was a little kid I used to dream about going to the moon.

WWD: What do you do when you are not shooting?

B.S.: There are always things happening. The phone is always ringing.

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