A Life of Pictures Part 2

The second part of the interview with Photographer Vladimir Sichov.

What is your favorite cover?

e5312e24d166ec0f881326a8e734ed12The November Cover of Paris Match showing The Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Romania Revolution Cover.


Why are you still motivated to take pictures? 

I am a street life photographer.  I look for moments, unknown people.  I take pictures fast.   The right way to be a street photographer is to be quick while not drawing attention to you.   I place tape over the camera labels and numbers for discretion.

What is your favorite device?

I like fixed lens.  I used Leica until 92 then switched to Canon.

Who was your artistic influence?

Bresson was a God with his sense of composition.  He was the master and everyone else is several steps below.  We spoke several times.  I asked him how many good pictures he made.  He said around 40.

Who was the most difficult subject?

The Vogue Studio and those white walls.   I prefer action to studio, black and white over color.

Politics and politicians have played a major role in your works.

In May 1981 French President Giscard lost the election to Mitterand.  I was assigned to go to his house in the Middle of France with other press people. All only had 20 minutes.  After he learned I was Russian he spoke to my team for over 40 minutes.    He said his favorite politician was Brezhnev.  I spent 2 week with him on holiday in the Holy Land after he left office.   His wife was religious.

And Chirac?

Prime Minister Jacques Chirac opened a world for me.   I was a stateless so he arranged for me to have a French Passport.

Having covered so politics and events, what do you think of the current state of Europe?

If I had written articles on what I thought I would have been fired immediately.  There is a body of unelected people (EU Commission) making disastrous decision for Europe.  There is no Ford to build an industry.   So much has been destroyed, from textile to steel production.

What were the most interesting assignments?

There are many but some now:

I was in the Soviet Union covering the Michael Jackson concert in 1989 before the coup.  I felt something was going on so I called my editor and decided to stay in Moscow a little while longer.  The tanks rolled into the city.  I saw it all in front of The Russian White House.   I was wounded, shot.

When Gorbachev went into exile I was with him for 3 days.

Vladimir Horowitz-018Horowitz was fun.  I wanted to show him doing more than at the piano.  Russians love ice cream and playing chess.  He asked me if I loved ice cream.  Yes!

I made images of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge at their apartment.  One of those images was used at the Christie’s auction in 2009. It was rare assignment because they did not normally allow images made in their flat.

I accompanied Keith Haring here (Berlin) to take pictures of him painting the Wall for the mural.  He was really fast.   That was in 1986.    I made pictures of him doing work on the Grace Jones video.

Keith Haring, american artist, makes painting on the Berlin Wall. Berlin, 1986.
Keith Haring, american artist, makes painting on the Berlin Wall.
Berlin, 1986.

What advice would you give a photographer?

Love what are doing and you will never have a problem.  If you find a job you like and you will never work.  Do not expect rewards.