Michael Tighe Is Clean, Sober and Re-Energized

The Washington Post catches up with a longtime photographer of New York's cultural elite.

The black and white photo of Mike Wallace, taken in 1975, shows the late 60 Minutes legend in a snappy criss-cross pattern suit, leaning against an office TV and standing to the right of an overflowing floor-to-ceiling bookcase. Another shot, from 1974, frames Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown simply, in a chair.

Both are by Michael Tighe (pictured), a longtime photographer of New York media, art, fashion and literary figures who today prefers to point his lens at the non-famous. More importantly, he has been clean and sober for six years now. From the In Sight series profile by Washington Post photo editor Nicole Crowder:

Tighe was just 27 when he checked himself into rehab for heroin addiction. His reputation among the publications he worked for was shattered. For much of his professional life Tighe has battled openly with drug addiction, telling In Sight that addiction “is probably what has most kept me from attaining the kind notoriety that might come my way if I were sober.”

A chance viewing of Raging Bull – its black-and-white cinematography juxtaposed with De Niro’s Academy Award-winning performance – would be the catalyst that re-inspired Tighe. He moved from seeking artists and painters to seeking movie stars, starting back up with writing his three-sentence letters all over again. But ultimately Tighe’s desire to be in the inner circle of celebrity culture would fade, and over the next several years he turned his attention to everyday people through street photography, writing plays, and painting; work he finds much more fulfilling today.

The In Sight spread also features the shot that launched Tighe’s career: Mikhail Baryshnikov getting a massage. Today, Tighe calls Los Angeles home.
 
[Photo via: michaeltighephotography.com]