Richard Corman is an American portrait photographer who has worked with many celebrities and exceptional individuals. Some of his models are Bill Clinton, Al Pacino, Muhammad Ali, Robert de Niro and Ralph Lauren.
In his twenties, he shot Boy George and Johnny Rotten when they were at the beginning of their careers, before they became world-famous.
That same decade, he did a photoshoot of one of the biggest stars-to-be. When he was 29, he had a chance to shoot Madonna before the release of her debut album. And he took it. Decades after the photoshoot, Corman found the long-lost photos in his home and published them in a book.
Speaking to i-D, he reveals his inspiration for the photoshoot.
Back then, Madonna was only 24 and had only started to rise on the music scene. Actually, she would release her first album only a month after the encounter with Corman – the album that will launch her into the stars.
But before all that, Madonna was an ambitious girl looking for the road to fame. Even then, Corman could see her huge potential, though. Her eyes were telling a story that he still remembers.
The Polaroids that would become available to the public 30 years later were made in and around Madonna’s apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. These photos were casting Polaroids for a movie that would never be released.
Corman’s mother, Cis Corman, worked as a casting director and it was her that suggested Corman he shoots the soon-to-become famous girl. The photographer reveals in his interview that this photoshoot is special to him because of the connection it represents with his mother.
Namely, he reveals that his mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
“This is really an homage to her. None of this would have happened without our collaboration,” he says.
At the time, the photographer was just finishing his apprenticeship with Richard Avedon, which opened many doors for him in his career. Corman started to do professional photography shortly after the period in Avedon’s studio.
He defines this experience with Avedon as “life-altering in the best way”. During his apprenticeship, Corman was spending a lot of time with Avedon, which influenced his own work.
He put the knowledge he got into practice with Madonna’s photoshoot. His portraits tell the story of young girl who is determined to do anything to reach her goals. Corman made 66 Polaroids of Madonna that day in May, 1983.
His mother introduced him to Madonna earlier that spring. This shoot came during for the casting of the musical Cindy Rella, which was never released. The Polaroids were considered lost until Corman found them in his warehouse in 2013.
The thing that made the photoshoot great for Corman is the fact that there was nobody else except them two.
In the photoshoot, Madonna has the role of Cinderella, cleaning the house and dressing for the ball. She is dressed in ripped denim and has red lipstick. The look is futuristic and unique. Corman agrees that the way she looked then was ahead of its time. Surprisingly, Madonna styled herself. Corman reveals that she found the dress in a vintage store on the day of the photoshoot and did her makeup and hair herself.
“She was always in control. She knew exactly the way she wanted it to look”, Corman describes her.
The determination and energy that she still possesses is what amazed Corman then. It is this that made her 100% original, according to him.
The 66 Polaroids are accessible to everyone in the book Madonna NYC 83.
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