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October 7th, 1971, NYC: It was late in the afternoon, around 4:30pm. I finished photographing model, Joy Smith who needed pictures for her portfolio. Since I wasn't getting paid for this shoot, I thought I might as well go to Central Park, across from Jackie's apartment and maybe I would get lucky, and indeed I did!
Upon leaving the park, I saw Jackie leave her apartment on 85th Street and head towards Madison Avenue. Joy was still with me and she could not believe it was Jackie!
We were walking behind her at 85th Street toward Madison Avenue. Jackie made a left going north on Madison. I decided not to run in front of her because I knew if I did she would put on those dark glasses.
So Joy & I decided to hop in a cab to catch up to her, as I was pretty sure that the cab would conceal me from Jackie.
"Follow that woman!" I told the cab driver. For once, Jackie's instincts were all wrong; without me asking, the cab driver honked his horn and Jackie turned right towards me. She did not recognize me as my camera was covering my face and she gave me the Mona Lisa smile.
Jackie Onassis Sighting at Madison Avenue in New York City - October 7, 1971. Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage
After getting out of the cab she spotted me and immediately put on her sunglasses. I handed Joy one of my cameras with a wide angle lens and pre-focused to 15 feet. I told Joy to get the two of us together.
Both Joy and I were clicking and laughing until Jackie, furious, turned and said, "Are you pleased with yourself?" Well, I knew to stop and said, "thank you!"
This is my favorite photo of Jackie as it captures qualities of the paparazzi style; off guard, unrehearsed and spontaneous. The dramatic soft backlighting and the over-the -shoulder composition showcases her intrinsic beauty and grace.
Jackie was casually dressed, wore no makeup and her hair was windblown which all added up to revealing her natural beauty. This approach is in contrast to the usual studio style picture.
All the natural elements worked for me that day, including a little luck!
DaVinci has his "Mona Lisa" and I have my "Windblown Jackie," my favorite, most famous photo of Jacqueline Lee "Jackie" Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. And it all happened within 15 minutes!
This photo appears on the cover of my latest book, 'Jackie My Obsession'.
About Ron Galella
Much has been written of Ron Galella. Widely regarded as the most famous and most controversial celebrity photographer in the world—he's been dubbed “Paparazzo Extraordinaire” by Newsweek and “the Godfather of U.S. paparazzi culture” by Time and Vanity Fair—Galella is willing to take great risks to get the perfect shot.
Ron's body of work has been exhibited at museums and galleries throughout the world. The Museum of Modern Art, New York and San Francisco, the Tate Modern in London, and the Helmut Newton Foundation Museum of Photography in Berlin, among many others, all maintain collections of Galella’s iconic works.
Ron's passion for photojournalism has also given rise to many highly acclaimed photo-art books,including Disco Years, which was honored as Best Photography Book of 2006 by The New York Times. Recently, Galella made the transition to moving film with Smash His Camera, a
documentary of his life and career by Oscar-winning director Leon Gast (When We Were Kings,1996). Premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, Smash His Camera received the Grand Jury Award for Directing in the U.S. Documentary category. The film was also well-received at
the 54th BFI London Film Festival prior to airing on the BBC throughout the United Kingdom and Europe.
A native New Yorker now residing in Montville, New Jersey, Ron served as a United States Air Force photographer during the Korean conflict before attending the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, where he earned a degree in Photojournalism.
Ron’s body of work is currently made available for research and editorial use through Getty Images.
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