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Legendary Photos: The Stories Behind 7 of Ryszard Horowitz’s Iconic Images

How a master photo-composer crafts his mind-bending images

Pinky Ring, 1973

Photo of a pinky ring

One day I received an assignment from DeBeers Diamonds to photograph the winners of the International Diamond Jewelry Design Competition. I had a day to come up with twenty images featuring a collection of diamond rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. I prepared a number of sketches utilizing mostly hands, legs and heads to decorate them with the jewelry. I immediately thought of my favorite models Jaclyn Smith, Donna Mitchell and Cathy Tolbert who had the most beautiful hands I’ve ever seen. I never forget the story Cathy told me how once she broke up with her boyfriend who innocently dared to ask her to help to wash some dishes, disregarding her precious hands. She was one the most professional models I’ve worked with, oftentimes putting up with some of the most convoluted poses I put her through in front of my camera, for hours. At the time, Donna graced many covers and pages of Harper’s Bazaar photographed mostly by the fabulous Hiro, and Jaclyn whom I met on the set of a TV commercial by my friend just before she gained great international fame as one of Charlie’s Angels.

My photo features Cathy’s fist in the foreground resting on a small black surface about a foot away from the camera and Jaclyn sitting about ten feet behind her with her head fitting exactly in between Cathy’s knuckles. It is a single in-camera exposure. I took advantage of a wide-angle lens at f/22 to keep it all in focus and positioning it in a way to avoid any optical distortion. Both lights for the foreground and background had to be balanced.

My series of DeBeers photographs won a Gold Medal from the AD Club of New York in 1973.

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