His break as a photographer came in 1977 when he took some stunning black and white photos of his friend Richard Gere, who at that time was just beginning his career as a screen actor. Once the pictures of Gere went public, there was demand for Ritts’ services from a number of sources. It was his black and white, naturally-lit pictures – at once timeless and of their time – that were most recognizable, in particular his capturing of the rise of the super models in the second half of the 80s. His ‘Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi: Hollywood, 1989’ is one of his most famous shots.
He worked with Madonna a number of times during the 1980s, with perhaps the most famous of his images of her being the one used on the cover of her album True Blue. The pose he photographed her in was similar to the one Olivia Newton-John had adopted during another of his shoots, the one he did for the cover of the album Physical (1981).
Madonna was also the client for his first music promo video; he directed the film for her single Cherish in 1989. A later clip in the mid-90s was for Jon Bon Jovi’s Please Come Home For Christmas which featured supermodel Cindy Crawford (the Cindy mentioned in the title of the piece above), who at that time was married to Richard Gere – Ritts having introduced them.
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