Books

Who Says Writers Don't Photograph Well?

Since 1983, Marion Ettlinger has immortalized literary greats from Truman Capote to ZZ Packer. Why specialize in portraits of writers? ''They're being photographed because of their internal life, their intellect,'' she says. ''And here I am, presumably dealing with the superficial, what they look like. I try to mesh those two things.'' Here, she discusses images from her new book, Author Photo (Simon & Schuster, $35).

Jeffrey Eugenides (1996) For this photo of the ''Middlesex'' author, Ettlinger recalls: ''He said, 'Hey, let's get on the D train.' I was thinking 'God, I'm not sure I know how to take a photo in the subway.' That would have been something I never would have suggested, but I've learned when you go with things, great stuff happens.''

Kathryn Harrison (1994) ''She had just written this book called ''Poison'' that took place during 17th-century Spain. I wasn't really photographing her for that book, but I did feel under the influence of Spain and I did have a mantilla lying around. I just thought it would look extraordinary on her since she's so fair. She was game, and that's how that happened.''

Jonathan Franzen (1996) ''I saw all these interesting objects in his place and brought them together in this still life. I think the umbrella belonged to his father, and I liked the old dial phone. The lamp was something I think he pulled off the street. And I liked the way the umbrella and the light are the same shape; one is a positive and one is a negative.''

Originally posted Nov 14, 2003 Published in issue #737 Nov 14, 2003 Order article reprints
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