I know that a Diaries series is meant to go chronologically, yet there are moments when the rules need to be broken.
For me, hearing master photographer and longtime Doha Film Institute collaborator Brigitte Lacombe talk about cinema and fashion from a photographic point of view was one such moment. I could not wait to get home and write about the pleasant afternoon I spent in her company -- along with a theater-full of attendees of this Qumra talk -- and her sister's, video photographer Marian Lacombe.
Lacombe created the iconic I AM FILM campaign for DFI, which at the very start of the organization's existence, helped to give it its foundations and set the tone for all the greatness to come. Those black and white photographs of known and yet unknown Arab filmmakers and actors dotted the landscape of Katara, the cultural village where the first film festivals took place in Qatar. I remember Julian Schnabel side by side with Omar Sharif and Nadine Labaki and those portraits continue to represent the great courage of the Doha Film Institute, in bridging the cultures of those distrustful, different sides of "the Other" through cinema.
Today, Lacombe is of course the fashion photographer of the Jennifer Lawrence Dior campaign, but her legendary career spans nearly 50 years, starting with her first Cannes Film Festival in the 1970s, all the way to the sets of most Martin Scorsese films and her friendship with Meryl Streep, whom she has captured often.
"Meryl Streep doesn't like to have her picture taken and all I want to do is take her photo," Lacombe disclosed during her talk. She also went into what it's like to be a fly on the wall of film productions like 'All the President's Men', 'Gangs of New York' and 'Marie Antoinette' -- though I imagine that she has to find her inner bossiness to be able to shoot those exceptional behind-the-scenes stills.
Nothing good ever comes from a woman being mousy or shy.
The French-born, NYC-based photographer also talked about what it's like to "surrender your images" when her works of art are then cut up and turned into film posters and she has to sit back and watch it be done.
The haunting moments in time that Lacombe has captured include Leonardo Di Caprio on Scorsese's 'Gangs of New York' set in full costume, in character and yet taking his own photo with a digital camera which "he kept hidden in his pocket," said Lacombe. But also an incredibly intimate photo of Nicole Kidman during a fitting with costume designer Anne Roth, both women allowing Lacombe a true inside view into their worlds. And Mick Jagger in drags. Yes.
Lately Lacombe has been of course photographing fashion, but also lending her talent to campaigns to empower women, like the "Hey'Ya Arab Women in Sports" exhibit, now also available as a book, sponsored by the Qatar Museums and "The Female Lead" where women like filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Christiane Amanpour and Jo Malone join in to present a case for more women in positions of power. As Streep herself states in one of the videos shot by Marian Lacombe "I'd negotiate for 60/40" as far as women running the show or even being part of the conversation in cinema and the world of movie critics. All hail to Ms. Streep for putting it exactly like it is.
Check out the Instagram account for Brigitte Lacombe and familiarize yourself with her work as to me it represents the very best we women have to give and can achieve.
And when we're good, we are really, really awesome.