Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Remembering Raeanne Rubenstein Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

6 December 2019

Raeanne Rubenstein, who died Saturday in Nashville, was known as a celebrity photographer. "It was just pure luck," she once explained her career. "It could've been somebody else."

The reason it was her and not somebody else, she said then, was not because she was charming or talented. It was "because they liked me, they knew me. They didn't want a stranger on the bus or at the show, so they would rather have me."

She never found shooting the stars easy, though. "You have to somehow get them to reveal who they are, what they're interested in and how they see themselves," she said.

To make her point, she recalled her shoot for People magazine with Rodney Dangerfield, the comedian who continually complained he "got no respect."

She had come up with two ideas for him so when he sidled up next to her in his signature bathroom on his driveway and said, "OK, Rubenstein. What ya got?" she was prepared.

Or thought she was. He didn't like her first idea. And he dismissed the second one just as fast. He turned and walked back to the house. She tells the rest of the story:

Rodney was getting dangerously close to the door and I was thinking, "What can I do? What can I do? He's going to go through that door in 30 seconds!"

So I called out, "Rodney!" and he turned around and said "What, Rubenstein?" And I said, "I have an idea that I think you'll like."

And he said, "Well, what's that?" And I said, "What do you want do?"

He turned, started walking back in my direction and said, "Now you're talkin'!"

From that moment forward, he was happy to do anything I suggested. I got a lot of great shots of him in the pool that day, including pants down and looking at me quizzically.

It was probably the only time in his career Dangerfield got any respect.

Rubenstein got her start in London shooting fashion photography. When her friend Lita Eliscu became a pop culture journalist interviewing celebrities, she tagged along as her photographic sidekick.

One day they were at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville to photograph Johnny Cash. Eliscu went off to look for him while Rubenstein waited below the stage.

"As I was thinking how exciting it was," she remembered, "I suddenly felt the presence of someone standing behind me. It was such a powerful presence that I turned around quickly because I felt like somebody was, like, too close."

It was Johnny Cash.

"Hello, little lady. Can I help you?" he said. She remembered his exact words.

Star struck or not, she remained proud of her images of him dressed all in black "just as you would expect" from that day. "It was just the most amazing experience because every picture would be perfect -- because he was Johnny Cash."

By which she meant every image was faithful to the star, revealing who they are.

"When people look at the photos I took of a certain actor, musician or entertainer, I try to allow them to see that person's true personality," she explained her approach.

"It's so important to take the time to let them reveal themselves, because, in the end, it's the photos that are the truth tellers. They last forever and people feel they know person forever."

BackBack to Photo Corners