I received word of the sudden passing of Herb Ritts the life long partner of Erik Hyman. Erik almost a surrogate brother to Adam, and my daughter Erika, who just about grew up in our household and has been with us during the happy and sad times.
Erik is a good friend to Optometry. He spent some of his teen years working in our practice. He is now a prominent theatrical attorney in Los Angeles.
I felt this tribute to his partner, Herb is appropriate, since Adam, my wife Carol or I are not with Erik. Fortunately, my daughter, Erika, who is closest to Erik will be with him personally in his hour of grief.
This CNN report will be of special interest to those interested in Photography...
"Celebrity photographer Herb Ritts dies
Thursday, December 26, 2002 Posted: 9:22 PM EST (0222 GMT)
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Photographer Herb Ritts, whose access to celebrities, even at their most fragile moments, gave him an edge in a competitive field, died Thursday of complications of pneumonia, his publicist said. He was 50.
Ritts -- whose stylish, mostly black-and-white portraits helped define the image-conscious 1980s and '90s -- died at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center, publicist Stephen Huvane said.
Ritts gained entree to celebrities' lives even at unglamorous moments. He photographed Christopher Reeve, wired up and immobile in a high-tech wheelchair. In another photograph, Elizabeth Taylor sported a crew cut and the scar resulting from her brain surgery.
"He could get people to do things that they were reluctant to do, because in the end it would make a great photograph," said David Fahey, Ritts' gallery representative.
Edward Norton, one of Ritts' subjects, once told the Los Angeles Times: "I feel like Herb really does see everything as beautiful. ... It's almost as if he can't help but see it in its idealized form."
Ritts was born in Los Angeles in 1952, and the family furniture business provided a comfortable life for him and three siblings. He moved to the East Coast to attend New York's Bard College, studying economics and art history.
After graduation he returned to California and took a job as a salesman in the family business.
Taking pictures started as a hobby for Ritts, and chance and connections propelled him into the world of celebrity photography in the '70s. He got to know Richard Gere through someone who was dating the actor at the time.
A drive in the desert led to a flat tire and an impromptu photo session in a service station. The result was a photo of a steamy Gere in a white vest, his arms over his head and a cigarette dangling from his mouth.
"I can't remember whether I told Richard to put his arms over his head or whether I just clicked when he stretched. And he really smoked a lot. He was like that, a handsome kid and very sexy," Ritts said in an interview for a catalog that accompanied a show at Paris' Fondation Cartier in 2000.
At the time, Gere was an unknown. A year later he was a star, and Ritts' photos were being used as publicity shots.
Ritts shot celebrities from Madonna to Michelle Pfeiffer to Dizzy Gillespie for top fashion and culture magazines -- Interview, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Elle. When Taylor married construction worker Larry Fortensky in 1991, Ritts had exclusive rights to photograph her eighth trip down the aisle.
He showed Madonna grabbing her crotch, Cindy Crawford dressed as a man, Annette Bening pregnant and lounging on a couch.
Ritts believed his pictures would endure, even as his subjects faded from public awareness.
"Fifty or 60 years from now, if someone sees a portrait of Madonna, they really won't care that it was Madonna or they won't know" who she was, he told the Los Angeles Times. "But it'll hold up as a portrait of an interesting woman you want to know. You feel her. There's something coming from it."
His subjects ranged far beyond pop culture -- Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking and the Dalai Lama all went before his lens.
Ritts published at least eight books of photographs and did work for top fashion designers including Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Revlon and Giorgio Armani. He took pictures for album covers and directed music videos.
In 1991 two of his videos won MTV Awards: best female video, with Janet Jackson, and best male video, with Chris Isaak.
His work was displayed at studios and museums, including a major retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1996-'97. The show attracted more than 253,000 people, including some critics who dismissed Ritts' work as pop art.
Ritts also helped raise charity funds, often for AIDS groups.
He is survived by his mother, Shirley Ritts; a brother, Rory; a sister, Christy; and his partner, Erik Hyman. "
Herb, you left us way too soon! Rest in peace.
Erik our love and thoughts are with you.