Having taken pictures all over the world and of some of the most famous celebrities in history, Christopher Makos said his new book, “Everything: The Black and White Monograph,” is about remembering and inspiring.
Now 68 years old, the photographer from New York City has visited nearly every continent (“I haven’t been to Antarctica”) and mingled with legendary names from the entertainment industry.
Jokingly, Makos said he started taking pictures at an early age because he has no memory skills.
“I take them so it kind of proves I have a life and that I’ve done stuff,” he told CNN. “I flew on the Concorde many, many times. I’ve been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things.”
Some of the photos in the book have never been published, including images of Vanna White, Michael Jackson and Queen Elizabeth II. Makos said he thought it was time to make these available to the public because he was getting tired of seeing the same photos of his over and over again.
“They come about like a wine,” he said when asked about the delay in releasing the photos. “It’s not ready when you first pick the grapes. You have to wait a long time to get the good stuff.”
All 248 photographs in the book, which is releasing Thursday, October 9, are in black and white. From portraits to nudes, snapshots to studio shots, Makos documents the places he’s been and tries to capture the moment in those locations and people.
Makos said black-and-white film is a pretty forgiving medium for his subjects. It also helped him achieve a look and nuance for this book that he thought would have been harder with color images.
“It’s a great equalizer,” Makos said. “The whole thing has a tone and style and rhythm that is sometimes more difficult to achieve with color.”
When confronted by the list of photographs of famous people he put in his book, Makos still reacts with amazement even though he is the one that took the pictures. John Lennon, Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, Liza Minnelli, Mick Jagger and Marilyn Chambers are among the people he’s met in his life.
“I can barely believe that. That’s why it is good for me to have this,” Makos said. “You get older and you wonder, did I really do that? Did I really meet that person? Did I really know that person? And the answer is yes, I did know all of these people and meet all of these people.”
The book is more than just a collection of memories, though. Makos hopes it will inspire people to get out and explore the world around them. While acknowledging the far-reaching effect of technology to let people see things without leaving their surroundings, he wants to show that being there is better.
“A sense that everything is possible,” he said. “That you can meet everybody. That you can do everything. That you can travel. That you can see the world. Go do that so you can see the stuff. You can do all of this firsthand.”
Makos isn’t done. He continues to tour the globe and enjoy new experiences. He plans to publish another book soon to show more of the world and people around us.
“I’ve had the life of 10 people,” he said. “I really have enjoyed my life. I’ve been able to be a caretaker to those moments and then show those moments in my photographs.”
- Larry Frum, Special to CNN