John Dominis: The first of the celeb photographers

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Though John Dominis, a former photo editor at Life magazine, was well-known for his high-end fashion photography, his wardrobe sense does not transcend to his own closet. “I don’t spend very much time on my clothing, really,” Dominis told a crowd of 50 at Contessa Gallery http://www.contessagallery.com/ Friday. “I don’t even know if I’m dressed right tonight,” he said, looking down at his pink collared shirt, dark suit jacket, and loafers…. Dominis, who’s photo collection is on display until May 4th at the Legacy gallery, was one of the first celebrity photographers. He famously captured photos of Steve McQueen nude in a bath tub with his girlfriend and followed Sinatra around for a profile on the singer’s 50th year. Dominis was able to get actors to open themselves up in ways they had never done before. “Steve McQueen famously didn’t like the press,” Dominis says. But the photographer knew that the actor was a fan of cars. On the day of the shoot, Dominis rented the most expensive Jag in the lot, and McQueen was so impressed that he ended up “driving my car all weekend,” Dominis laughed. Dominis also knew what not to photograph. Sinatra was often accused of having Mafia cronies. Once, while following the singer back to his hotel room, two burly guys came in and tossed an old money bag on the bed. It was filled to the brink with jewels. Sinatra pocketed a few of them, while Dominis stood quietly in the corner, not snapping any photos. And because of that, Dominis said, “I’m still here today.” – Rebecca Meiser

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