About the Photographer
Van Sant, Gus
American, b. 1952
Best known for his award-winning feature films, Gus Van Sant is a longtime photographer as well as a film director. Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1952, Van Sant spent part of his childhood in Portland, Oregon. In the early 1970s he attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where he focused on painting and Super-8 filmmaking. In the following years he took jobs in Los Angeles and New York before self-financing the production of his film Mala Noche, which was well received at film festivals. Buoyed by this success but failing to find a foothold with Hollywood studios, Van Sant moved back to Portland, and independently completed a number of critically-acclaimed films, including Drugstore Cowboy (1989) and My Own Private Idaho (1991), which launched his career.
Van Sant published a his first monograph of photographs in 1993. A collection of 108 portraits, some taken during the casting calls for his films, the book intermixes ordinary people and famous figures, such as actor Matt Dillon and novelist Tom Robbins, a friend of Van Sant's in Portalnd. In the introduction, Van Sant writes, "As I look at the pictures, I am reminded about the power a single person carries around with them. Everyone is so different, and yet they all look somehow the same. They all embody huge potentials for success or failure, for nervousness or calm, for sainthood or devilry, and have individually had their proportionate share of both."