These are the words of the winner of the “Golden Globe” and “Oscar” for his role in “Crazy Heart” from 2009 Jeff Bridges. An actor with over 60 films in his biography and six more nominations for the most prestigious film award.
“Dude” in “The Big Lebowski” by the Coen brothers, Jackson Evans in “The Challenger”, Dr. Mark Powell in “Kay Pax”, Jack Baker in “The Famous Baker Boys”, Jack Lucas in “The Fisher King” by director Terry Gilliam, Gregory Larkin in The Two-Faced Mirror. These are just a few of the titles that make you love Jeff Bridges.
My close friends know that this actor is #1 on my favorites list. For so many years, neither Al Pacino nor Robert De Niro could displace him. I discovered his acting power in “The Fisher King”, and he filled my eyes with a woman in “The Mirror Has Two Faces”. I thought that after watching so many movies and reading interviews, I knew everything about him. Yes but no!
I made a real discovery these days. Jeff Bridges – a photographer. I knew he was one of the record holders of Hollywood marriages – married to Susan Jeston for 44 years. What I didn’t know, however, was that this very woman gave him a camera as a belated wedding present, and from then to this day, he hasn’t parted ways with her on set.
Bridges’ photos are black-and-white panoramas taken with a Widelux F8 camera. According to Jeff, it’s a finicky camera – its viewfinder isn’t accurate and it doesn’t have manual focus. But he believes that this is exactly what makes his photos more human and honest. “My photography is mainly focused on my filmmaking work, which I’ve been doing all my life. I think I have a perspective that few people have. There is so much information in the pictures – so much to look at. This camera seems to have peripheral vision – it registers multiple stories within a single frame. “, he says in an interview with The New York Times.
It is the different format of this camera and the way it captures moments that made me introduce the work of Jeff Bridges.
The panoramic aspect combined with the vivid black and white image gives his photographs a unique perspective. The International Center of Photography in New York honored him for the collection of photographs collected in his first book, Pictures, published in 2003. In 2019, his second book, Pictures Volume Two, was published.
“I’ve been shooting and making movies most of my life … I started shooting in high school. I set up a dark room and lost track of time listening to the FM radio in the red “safe light”. What I enjoyed most was the printing – watching these images slowly come to life.
I see pictures I took many weeks ago and forget about everything – I liked that. To this day, when I look at a negative with “proofs” for the first time, I feel like I’m opening a Christmas present. What a great surprise – to see what the camera saw, to feel the moment again in the picture”, writes Jeff Bridges in the foreword to the photo book.
The Wide-Lux camera format closely resembles the 1:8:5 aspect ratio of typical film. Because of its panoramic lens, it functions as a bridge between still and moving pictures, Bridges explains of the subtle cinematic effect in his shots.
In 1984, while filming Starman, actress Karen Allen (“Raiders of the Missing Ark”) saw some of Bridges’ photos and suggested they combine them with Sid Baldwin’s (production photographer) footage to make a book about the cast and crew. Karen’s idea marked the beginning of a series of numerous published photo albums, which Bridges presented to the team at the end of the shooting process. The crews of 16 of the films on which Bridges is working are getting such. Each album is a kind of document of their joint work. In fact, the first book, Pictures, is a selection of some of his favorite shots from these smaller albums.
Inspired by ancient Greek tragedy and comedy and using the possibilities of his panoramic camera, Bridges made a series of the same name with a number of famous actors, including Meryl Streep, Matt Diamond, Justin Timberlake, Simon Pegg, George Clooney.
“The first time I encountered such an approach was in high school. They had brought us together to take a class picture. The photographer had a WideLux. He explained to us how it worked and some children realized that if they ran really fast, they could “win” and be in the picture twice. Years later, I began using this technique to photograph actors creating the theatrical masks of Tragedy and Comedy. The result was impressive, frowning and smiling – all with one negative.
Another mini discovery for me was the many “selfies” that Bridges takes, and that was way before the era of smart phones. Famous are the shots with his legendary father, no less famous actor Lloyd Bridges (two-time Emmy Award nominee) and his brother Beau Bridges.
In conclusion, I will only say that I am very proud of my discovery, because this great actor is truly a whole universe. With the roles he gave us, with the music he writes and performs and with his documentary footage from the film “kitchen”.