Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

Irving Penn

The job interview I had in 1995 to be Irving Penn's assistant was the most incredible hour of my career. We talked about everything — except photography. At the time, photographers specialized. But he had done everything — fashion, still life, advertisements. He had been an art director, and it showed. There was no technology in the studio. You didn't need it. The pictures he made had an eerie quality, a romantic beauty. He'd shoot a piece of spinach, and it looked like a piece of spinach from the '50s. What I took away from working for him was that you have to have a strong vision of what you want to say — not just for the day but for your entire career. He was a man of another era. Everybody always called him Mr. Penn.

—Horacio Salinas

Salinas is a photographer based in New York City