Pictures I Had to Take

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“Being an actor and in the public eye, this…was a private act that could (should I choose) be shared with others.…As long as I can remember, I’ve loved taking photographs. It was always a complete and spontaneous pleasure for me, ‘Oh my God, look at that!’ I never thought about a tripod, zoom, or light meter. It was never work, only satisfaction. Looking…observing...recording...reflecting. Acts unspoiled by ambition, expectation, or competition.”
—Joel Grey

Pictures I Had to Take, the first monograph by acclaimed...

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Overview

“Being an actor and in the public eye, this…was a private act that could (should I choose) be shared with others.…As long as I can remember, I’ve loved taking photographs. It was always a complete and spontaneous pleasure for me, ‘Oh my God, look at that!’ I never thought about a tripod, zoom, or light meter. It was never work, only satisfaction. Looking…observing...recording...reflecting. Acts unspoiled by ambition, expectation, or competition.”
—Joel Grey

Pictures I Had to Take, the first monograph by acclaimed actor Joel Grey, is a highly personal visual memoir of Grey’s experiences while living and traveling in Europe, Asia, South and Central America, and the United States over the last twenty-five years. Separate and apart from his theater and film work, Grey exhibits for us images that he was compelled to remember and record—the pictures he “had to take.” Whether focusing his camera on a serene golden Buddha or on a majestic vista of misty Incan ruins, we can sense Grey’s delightful sense of wonder and joy in the detail and the magnificent on each page, guiding us through a quarter-century of intensely felt observations.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"For as long as I can remember, I have loved taking photographs," recalls the Tony and Academy award-winning actor Grey. A few years ago, friends encouraged him to take a second look at photographs that he had taken over 25 years of travel and unceremoniously assembled in shoeboxes. The resulting collection reveals an unabashed enthusiasm for the picturesque (wizened peasant faces, gaudy religious shrines, busy market places), the rustic (jumbled junk heaps, weather-beaten wood) the quirky (laughing drag queens, listless sidewalk musicians), the recognizable (Venice, Machu Picchu, the Statue of Liberty), and cats. In a short post-script, Grey rhapsodizes about the spontaneous pleasure of photography: "I never considered a tripod, zoom, or light meter." Except for a delight in brilliant colors (a yellow and blue school bus in Mexico, flashy red dresses in Tahitian shop windows), Grey's indifference to technique and formalism is evident. His images are unconstrained by attention to composition, light and shadow, or even focus. Nor do they celebrate what Henri Cartier-Bresson-the ultimate sharp-shooter-calls "the decisive moment"; for snapshots, these photos are quite static. In his introduction to the book, photographer Duane Michals (Questions Without Answers) describes acting and picture-taking as shamanism. And indeed there is something mysterious about Grey's work; his "private act" of photography reveals memories and emotions perhaps visible primarily to him. 72 full-color photographs. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Grey's love of photography is not surprising, simply moving him from the theater, where he is best known for his performances in Cabaret, to the wide world with a bold camera. This book gathers up images of his far-flung travels to remote cultures and places, here captured in color. Grey brings startling camera placement to an already unusual scene, and he has great respect for all that he shoots, whether it's a Third World craft up close or a street dentist yanking a tooth with his hands. Ultimately, however, his work disappoints. We are supposed to be amazed by his eye for the exotic and his effort to make us see via the awkward placement of subject(s) in a frame he can't stretch. But the result is self-conscious, and the colors are faded and dusty, looking as if they were applied to the print after the dark room. Grey is ready to show us an unflinching worldview, but this is hardly new in contemporary photography. Duane Michals writes a glowing introduction about the brilliance of his friend, but this book can only be intended for friends and fans, fawning at the broad artistry of the man-not the work. Not recommended.-David Bryant, New Canaan P.L., CT Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781576871683
  • Publisher: powerHouse Books
  • Publication date: 6/5/2003
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 13.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Joel Grey
Joel Grey, acclaimed actor, singer, and dancer, is Mickey Katz's son. He performed small parts in revues and television until he landed his signature role as the sinister but mesmerizing Emcee in the Broadway musical Cabaret (1966), which earned him a Tony Award. He also won an Academy Award for his reprisal of the character in the 1972 film version of Cabaret and has remained a beloved figure of the American stage and screen.
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