Picturing Joy with photographer George Lange (and LL Cool J, LL's grandmother and Paul Simon!)


"In my career, I've made an art out of creating experiences that I get to photograph. People are always surprised when I say I don't care that much about what something looks like. I want my photos to reflect what I feel more than what I see." - George Lange

For George, every picture is a reimagining of the pure joy he felt growing up in Pittsburgh holding his first camera at the age of 7. Those of us who have loved photography our whole lives (and who grew up with those quintessential Kodak moments, begging to be the one who would accidentally cut everyone's heads off in the group shot), probably remember holding that prized family camera, as well!

But George's photographic fascination went way beyond childhood and his first photography jobs out of art school were for heavy hitters like Annie Leibovitz and Duane Michals (my hero!). 

But being a lead assistant wasn't what he was called to do. George had his own ideas of what he wanted to capture and his tenacious attitude and infectious enthusiasm landed him assignments from major magazine publications like Vogue, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and The New York Times.

He went on to lead a very successful career that has spanned four decades. He has created iconic photos of unlikely duos such as Steve Jobs/Bill Gates, Jimmy Buffet /Warren Buffet and LL Cool J/Paul Simon. Finding unexpected laughs and the most human common ground between these legendary odd couples. 

He has captured both the entire cast of Seinfeld and the entire cast of Friends. He's taken photos of BB King and Bruce Springsteen. Joni Mitchell and Jim Carey.

His vision is never singular.

In fact, to George, a photo is a failure if it isn't a collaboration with his subject.

When a photoshoot is going sideways like with Yo Yo Ma or The Violent Femmes, he goes to great lengths to not fall into predictable PR friendly portraits. Instead, he creates experiences where these larger than life artists can get out of their high gloss worlds and actually be THEMSELVES. 

His photographic philosophy is definitely at odds with today's influencer culture which is what makes it so appealing. Because it's REAL.

He's not at all about what "looks good" in the feeds.

Instead, he's seeking out the same ingredient in every.single.photo he takes.

And that ingredient is JOY. 

Real JOY. Actual moments of spontaneous connection and true humanity.

Not the canned or planned varietal on social media.

His old Rhode Island School of Design art school classmates might have scoffed at such a fluffy career calling. Joy isn't usually thought of as deep and artful subject matter for RISD students.

But what these thousands of joyful photos that George has captured have taught him is that while joy is actually quite simple, humans are beautifully complicated and life is not binary. Because no matter what is going on in their behind the scenes lives, joy is still that common denominator that connects us all. 

Even in the most tragic circumstances, there is joy. George shares a poignant story of a particularly joyful photo where he captured Kate Spade painting her toenails at her desk. And, as he writes with such compassion and heart in the book, "In every life, even lives with incredible sadness, there is also joy."

We are incredibly lucky to have the incomparable George Lange, chat with us in our creative and intimate Life Feast community, this month. It took me 5 years to get up the nerve to ask him and he's such a generous gem of a human. I can't believe I waited that long!

And while his photographs are extraordinary in how they personify joy and all of its nuances, what's really compelling about this book and George himself, are the stories he shares of how each photo came to be. These aren't run of the mill quickie captions or moments of showboating, but story after story of sweet, funny, and serendipitous moments that resulted in this parade of photographic gold. 
If you want to make sure you get to experience the gift that is George Lange, if you want to get inspired to find the simple beauty of joy in all of your relationships and be able to create these incredible moments of joy in your own life, then sign up for the Life Feast right now so that you don't miss out.

George will inspire you to think big, be persistent and live your own joyful life full out! This is a LIFE FEAST.

And this is also a do not miss!

January blues be gone - I give you January JOY with George Lange in The Life Feast.

 "Strangers and friends have given me gifts my entire life, including their time and enthusiasm. But mostly what they have given me is themselves." -George Lange, Picturing Joy


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