“Robert, remember, if it gets in the way, it is the way.”
They were just a dozen words tossed-off by psychic/poet Andrei Ridgeway at the end of a long conversation but they changed the world for his friend Robert Zuckerman – or at least the way the celebrated photographer would see it.
“It hit me like an arrow,” he remembers. “It affected the whole way I see things, because something can come into your path unexpectedly and it becomes a treasure. And that’s informed my work for the last 12 years.”
Zuckerman, called “Picasso” by his fav celeb subject Will Smith, made his name in Hollywood as a set and publicity photographer for dozens of popular movies and TV shows, but his friend’s simple aphorism expanded his scope from that of a photographer of stars to a portraitist of Everyman. And it inspired his 2005 book, Kindsight, a collection of environmental portraits with texts that elevate random encounters with ordinary people to works of art.
Aventura Hospital has hosted an installation from his “Kindsight” series, and a permanent one is currently at Jackson Memorial in Miami. “I’ve begun putting “Kindsight” in hospitals because of its healing energy,” says Zuckerman, 58, who himself is in a wheelchair due to a rare genetic condition that hit him about 10 years ago.
“It deepened my sensitivity to the so-called disability world, and in a way made me dig down deeper – to show that you could still be at the top of your field even if you’re impaired,” says Zuckerman, a 17-year resident of Sunny Isles. “It sharpened my ability to be open to things, so I actually feel that my work is the best that it’s ever been.”
An eclectic retrospective of that work is at MAC Fine Art in Fort Lauderdale through the end of March. Titled “Wondersim,” the exhibit is one little wonder after another, starting with Zuckerman’s first movie job, a wow-inducing 1990 portrait of George Clooney – with shoulder-length hair.
— Greg Carannante
Above photo: George Clooney