[Lessons learned by spending a day with an icon of the 20th Century and the man sent to create a portrait of him.]
Many years ago (1980's) I was fortunate enough to be the assistant for one of the great photographers of the last half of the last century - Brian Lanker. I got a call from him saying that we had to go and shoot Muhammad Ali for Sports Illustrated at his home in a exclusive section of LA.
We were allowed a quick look around to see where we might want to take the portrait and we initially picked a location in the dining room. A very ornate table and chairs. It was a difficult place to light - low ceilings... not much natural light... so everything that we tried... looked contrived and "lit". Eventually we settled upon a setup that we could live with and went to see when we could get Mr. Ali to sit for us.
Upon arrival we were ushered into a small office just off the side portico entrance. Sitting there on the other side of the desk was "The Great One" himself. He was on a call but motioned for us to sit in the two seats opposite him. We sat down. After watching and listening to an often erratic and disjointed conversation... punctuated with much hyperbole and flare - 2 hours later he finished that call.