Today the comedy world took another big hit with the passing of Joan Rivers.  As a kid I was introduced to her when she got Johnny Carson‘s nod to guest host the Tonight Show before their much publicized feud.

I was commissioned to photograph Joan for the advertising and packaging of her last standup special Don’t Start With Me. From the inception of this project everything revolved around the logistics rather than the creative as her busy schedule left us very few windows of opportunity and she wanted to shoot at E! after a taping of Fashion Police to save time. It took some negotiating and a couple of different location scouts but we eventually settled on a spot where we could shoot at E!. With the “where” and “when” finally determined it was time to consider the “what” and discuss the concept. Sadly before that conversation could take place I got a call from E! informing me that they (for whatever reason) wouldn’t allow Joan to shoot this project on their property so the hunt was on again. Once again I suggested my studio but she was determined to keep it as close to the E! studio as possible. The closest rental studios were still too far for her liking so she suggested her daughter Melissa‘s home. Great, Melissa’s home…now let’s start thinking about concept.

Joan called me to finally discuss the concept and put me on hold for just a second to take another call and then informed me that Melissa’s home was too far from E! to work logistically. The shoot was getting close and we didn’t have a location yet so I offered to send a driver thinking at this point my studio might be the best bet but she informed me that she had to be at a protest somewhere and we therefore had to stay very close to the E! studios. After exhausting every lead my client made arrangements to turn the back room of a reality show production office on Wilshire into a very cramped makeshift studio. Parking was a problem, the ceilings were low, it was in a high rise building but we didn’t have access to a freight elevator…any port in a storm.

Joan came straight from a taping of the Fashion Police in full makeup with wardrobe accompanied by her team, Sabrina, Adele (makeup), Frankie (hair) and Cary. After getting to know one another and grabbing a quick bite we got right to work. We had pre-lit two separate sets before she arrived. Joan started doing this long before I did and was a total pro. She knew exactly what she wanted so all I had to do was put her on her mark and let her go. Joan was very gracious and when we wrapped she insisted on posing with members of the client and crew while quipping one liners at them. When we were done she packed up a meal to go and was off to chain herself to a shopping cart at Costco to protest them not selling her book “I Hate Everyone … Starting With Me.

The next morning I had to laugh when I saw the news and realized that in order to get to the Costco where she staged her protest from our shoot she had to drive right past my studio…twice.