Men’s Journal Magazine asked me to travel to Malibu, California to photograph the brilliant music producer Rick Rubin for a feature article. We spent the day, together, collaborating on all sorts of images and talking about all sorts of things, especially creative life. He told me how his career developed and how he works, imagines, orchestrates and produces Grammy-Award winning music with top singers and bands, from Johnny Cash and U2 to Kanye West, Eminem, and Lady Gaga.
In the course of our conversations, Rubin asked about my background and work. Generally, I am reluctant to talk about my previous career in medicine; from the beginning, I wanted to be taken seriously as a photographer. He was, however, sincerely interested and probed, so I told him I’d once been a physician, a retina specialist. One thing I said was that I felt that as a physician I was doing important work in the world, work that was meaningful and long-lasting, not only in caring for my patients, who had blinding diseases, and working to save sight but also through making contributions to the scientific literature, writing textbooks and teaching, sharing knowledge with colleagues and ophthalmologists and fellows in training.
I sheepishly revealed that I sometimes felt that making photographs was, in terms of its effect on humanity, comparatively unimportant, even frivolous. He responded that I was wrong and said something like, “You are making original art, showing the world a unique way of seeing. Such artistic endeavor brings enlightenment to many more thousands of people than one can positively effect as a physician. You ought feel great about all you’ve done.”
It was a heartening thought, and a good day in Malibu.
This is the first spread published in MEN’S Journal.
Here are some additional photos we made that day:
Portraits of the great music guru.
His books in the reading room of his Malibu house.