It’s not uncommon for a Hollywood native like Randall Slavin to grow up wanting to be an actor.
But hanging out with promising young stars steered Slavin in a different direction: photography.
During the 1990s, armed with an Olympus Stylus camera, he became the visual chronicler of young Hollywood celebrities – the last generation of pre-Internet musicians and actors, like Hilary Swank and Charlize Theron, who at the times were still trying to succeed. in business.
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“I think I was hyper aware of being around special people,” Slavin wrote in his book, “We All Want Something Beautiful.”
The book traces Slavin’s career, from candid photos of his friends on the verge of becoming stars to his latest glossy works, revealing his ability to capture emotions without supervision. Each page is filled with familiar faces, like Lindsay Lohan, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Garner, Amber Heard, Rose McGowan, and Tara Reid.
“One of my main goals is to make people forget that they are being photographed, because that is what makes people stiff,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s a joy to spend time with these legends, so I want to use the time I have to get to know them … I really enjoy talking on my shoots.”
Actress Charlize Theron captured by Randall Slavin. Credit: Randall Slavin
During the 1990s, he had minor roles in blockbuster films, such as “Primal Fear” and “Legends of the Fall,” but to support his acting dreams, Slavin needed more side gigs. In his early twenties, he was working at a Chevron gas station in La Cienega, Hollywood, when he decided to try his hand at photography.
He befriended the owner of a portrait photography studio across the street, who gave him some basic advice, and soon after took pictures of his friends, including Hilary Swank, who in a photo had just cut her hair to express contempt for being fired from the hit TV series “Beverly Hills 90210”.
Actress Hilary Swank captured by Randall Slavin. Credit: Randall Slavin
“I was very lucky that a lot of my friends … let me experiment on them, and it helped me when they blew up and became movie stars. I was definitely one step ahead of them. lots of other photographers starting out, “Slavin says.
“I was breathing rarefied air and wanted to remember every moment,” Slavin wrote in the book.
With his camera in hand, Slavin seemed to be in the right places at the right time. He captured an image of Leonardo DiCaprio – just before the release of the movie “Titanic” – hanging out with Theron at his birthday party in Hollywood’s iconic Bar Marmont.
“You had these amazing places with people just relaxing and hanging out,” he explained. “I don’t know if this happens anymore.”
Going through his archives, Slavin also discovered a few surprising faces: “Six years before his breakthrough in ‘Hustle and Flow’, Terrence (Howard) was at my birthday party. I didn’t know him. Years later, j ‘looked at the photo and realized he was looking straight into the camera, “Slavin wrote in” We All Want Something Beautiful. “
Eddie Mills and Reese Witherspoon captured by Randall Slavin. Credit: Randall Slavin
Hollywood has been thrown wide open by social media, but Slavin’s photos provide a glimpse into a time when celebrities could party in relative privacy.
Actor James Van Der Beek appears in the background of a photo, wearing a beard, glasses and a baseball cap. It was 1999 and he had already achieved fame as Dawson Leery in “Dawson’s Creek”.
Singer Fergie captured by Randall Slavin. Credit: Randall Slavin
Slavin agreed. “Everyone thinks that your twenties were a special time, but I also think it was a special time because it was right before the internet, social media and cellphones. These three things happened and life private has disappeared, “he said.
It’s not easy to be successful in Hollywood as an actor, but just as difficult to start as a photographer.
In Slavin’s case, his trade was boosted by an unlimited access pass to the lives of his Hollywood friends. But he was not motivated by exhibition dreams. Slavin’s first black and white images were simply meant as a visual diary of the great times they were all experiencing.
“I was very lucky to be in the right place at some very magical times,” he said.
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“We All Want Something Beautiful” is available now from Mascot Books.