AIE Conversation Series: Rick Chapman

Photographer Rick Chapman sat down with Art in Embassies staff to talk about his photography and influences on the images in the Ankara exhibition 2015.

Full Transcript

0:01Being out there in the world, talking to people, whoever it may be, is fun.
0:06Being shy, I guess I don’t have space for it, it’s not how I’m wired.
0:12I just remember this feeling that a camera gives me permission to engage, gives me a
0:24To have chosen the path that I chose in my life, to be a photographer there is no guarantees
0:31at all, for sure, and I think that I got very very luck.
0:39The opportunity to photograph Muhammad Ali was not only very very exciting when I found
0:46out that that was going to happen but it ended up being just by chance one of those incredible
0:52experiences in life that you can count on one hand.
0:56I was prepped to expect very little time and it turned into a four or five hour incredible
1:04time at his home.
1:05One of things that I do like to do especially with a celebrity um is ask them hey is there
1:13a photo that’s never been made of you that you would like me to make because I’m here
1:18for you as much as you’re here for me.
1:21And a lot of times it’s like, no, you know I don’t know, whatever you want to do.
1:27Muhammad Ali did not answer like that.
1:29So I asked that question and he lit up, he just just a minute, you know?
1:37He comes out with this 1970’s plastic airline bag he hands it to me it’s really heavy.
1:45He goes, open it up, open it up – it’s full of dimes, quarters, and nickles, and he says,
1:56I want a picture of me with the money (laughter) So, I’m like, OK, you know?
2:03But that laughter, and that ease, and that play, opened up a door with him that changed
2:12the game of the day, I really do believe that was a key that I’ll never forget and that
2:19led us to well let’s play.
2:24We ended up in his boxing ring room but he’s on a chair just looking at me and that image
2:32to me became a quintessential image for getting to that calm place with somebody he’s just
2:40looking at me and that’s all it is, the snow outside is reflecting in his eyes and there’s
2:46no lights there was no one else there, his attorney was gone, his wife was gone, everyone
2:51was gone the whole show was over and it was just him and I, and that, that’s all I wanted.
2:59I’m looking for the human texture, who’s the person, who can you connect to when you’re
3:06looking at this two dimensional image of him that isn’t about him being a showman but about
3:14being you and I.
3:15You wake up in the morning, you eat your breakfast, you get happy about something, you get sad
3:20about something but that’s all we are really, right?
3:24How life unravels is just amazing to me, I’ve never been to Turkey, but that something I
3:33made is there that’s connected to our country, wow wow that’s amazing, and I hope that it’s
3:42being enjoyed, I hope that somebody gets something and feels that connection that I felt when
3:50I was with Muhammad Ali that day through my pictures, that would be the greatest pleasure
3:56of all.