Photographer Recalls Pair of Very Different Ariel Sharon Shoots

NYTMagazineArielSharonCoverIn many cases, memories of a suddenly departed towering political figure are the most arresting when presented unconventionally, or at least in a format far removed from the straight obit. Such is the case with Henry Kissinger‘s WaPo tribute and photographer Gillian Laub’s wonderful piece in Tablet magazine about her experiences with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Laub was given zero advance notice by the New York Times Magazine in 2004. Although the reporter, James Bennet, had been working on the piece for a year, permission to photograph the PM had come suddenly. Within hours of getting the call, Laub was on an overnight flight to the faraway destination, where things quickly ran afoul:

After blowing way too many fuses, I never like to be dependent on anybody’s electricity, so I only use portable lights, and each battery weighs about ten pounds and looks like a lead brick. When [security at Sharon’s Jerusalem office] ran a background check on me, they saw I’d been in Ramallah and Nablus two months before. I was interrogated for an hour.

Once Laub got disentangled from all this, there was another problem. Her chosen wardrobe for that very hot day – a denim skirt and T-shirt – was deemed completely unacceptable by the Prime Minister’s press secretary. To find out how she rebounded from being turned away that day, how she became known as “the girl with the short skirt” and how another assignment to photograph Sharon in 2005 for Time magazine took an equally dramatic and very opposite turn, click here.

To view some of Laub’s other stunning portrait work, go here.

[Image courtesy: Laub]