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An Afternoon with Douglas Kirkland

[reported by Scott Conry, National Sales Manager, Legion Paper]

Although we have been working with Douglas Kirkland for years, we never had the opportunity (or time) to just sit and talk with the Master.  So, a few weeks ago I called Douglas's studio to see if he had a moment to meet.  His assistant, Miranda, answered with a pleasant greeting and got Douglas on the phone.  We decided on a day best for me to pop by in the morning before their afternoon shoot, which would allow me to see the images that they were printing for their large Brisbane Gallery of Modert Art show in September.  The meeting was set and my schedule was prepared for about an hour long visit.

When I arrived I strolled up the walkway of their nice, yet modest, Hollywood Hills home/studio and was greeted by Miranda.  She hollered for Douglas, who was on a telephone call, and I stood in the hallway waiting for him to come out of his tiny little office.  As I stood there I glanced around looking at the house, the photographs on the walls that were in site of where I stood, and was just being my nosey self.  A few minutes later I noticed a very tall thin man with long white hair coming towards me from the other end of the house.  He was already apologizing for making me wait so long…three minutes is long?  We exchanged handshakes, pleasantries, and Douglas made sure to introduce me to everyone else in the house that included his printer, Jeremy, and his wife/business partner, Francoise, who was hard at work making what looked to be a lunch for 200 people.  Come to find out it was their daily lunch that they make for their entire team...of five.  More about this in a minute.  When Francoise came out from behind the kitchen to shake my hand she wiped it clean, grabbed my hand with both of hers and said, "Welcome…we love your company and we love your papers."  Nice start so far.

"So, would you like to take a walk around and let me show you the place and some of my images?" said Douglas, as he towered over me.  Trust me it was an easy answer.  We started off in Miranda's office, where she was deep into archiving all of Douglas' photos for the last 50+ years.  What a task!  Then we cruised past picture after picture after picture with him mumbling humbly about his numerous awards.  He also showed his first camera, which is the one that he shot Marilyn Monroe with….WOW!  The tour took about 40 minutes and I did not want it to end.  I wanted him to keep going on and on with all of the stories that are attached to each photo.  Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Jack Nicklaus, Michael Jackson, and of course my favorite, (gulp) Sophia Lauren.  I know that I'm forgetting thousands that he shared with me.  Oh, the nice part?  All of his favorite images are going to the gig in Brisbane on Entrada Rag Natural 290gsm.

As the tour was wrapping up we ended up in his shooting studio/printer room where his two HP printers were loaded with Entrada and cranking out the images for Brisbane.  There was a small sitting area in the studio where Douglas asked me to sit down.  He wanted to talk to me and tell me how much he appreciated everything Legion has done for him.  At that point their lunch count increased to six when Francoise invited and insisted that I stay for lunch, which I was more than honored to accept. 

Over lunch we talked about a bazillion different things, from the paper industry to the different resellers, families, individual pasts, and they even asked me for my opinion on how I would like the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art event to present our papers.  I suggested a few alterations and Francoise immediately changed them and e-mailed them to the Museum.  The day wrapped up four hours later with Douglas and Francoise walking me to the door with a gift.  They had signed Douglas' 3 latest books that have been published and gave them to me.  I cannot thank them enough.

It was a day that I will always remember and an experience that I will be sure to keep alive as I continue to work with Douglas, Francoise, and the rest of their dynamic team.