As we prepare to launch our revamped website and blog, it is hard to do without paying special homage to Photo Group founder, Peter Strongwater, my friend, business partner and mentor.
I remember the first time I met Peter. He was stoically sitting at his desk in his office at 88 Lexington working on a production and if memory serves me right, he was bidding out another. Peter was an impeccably dressed, calm and absolutely charming. I had no idea then, but that moment would be the beginning of a 12-year work relationship. I had no idea then, who I was really working with.
Peter was humble and quiet about his past. One day he had asked me to scan some contact sheets in (Peter did not have patience for anything digital). They were images of Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Diana Ross, Nastassja Kinski and several other iconic 80’s celebrities. As I was scanning them I asked, “who shot these? They’re amazing.” Peter replied, “Me” and left it at that. I went home that night and googled him. I could not believe that he had shot so many amazing covers for Interview Magazine and Playboy. Needless to say the next day I sat him down and grilled him. He was fascinating.
Peter started Photo Group in the 90’s. He always said that he wanted to live a life; he loved good food, good wine, and good people. He thought production was the way to go. Photographers loved working with him, because he could see the production through their eyes. He always told me not to lose that. That was our greatest asset.
Peter and I have worked side by side for years on countless productions with spectacular photographers. He made me a better producer and I brought him into the digital age and tried to push him past his comfort zone. Together we strived for perfection. We worked every production together ensuring that all would go flawlessly. After each job we would celebrate with dinner and champagne. He was one of my closest friends. Peter retired in 2014. I took over with the intent of keeping our company flourishing, which it has, and we continued to work on and produce beautiful campaigns with a new generation of iconic photographers.
On my 30th birthday Peter surprised me with a signed David Bowie piece (I love David Bowie and Peter knew it). It sits on my mantle at home and reminds me of him every day and how fortunate I was to have such an amazing person in my life. He is loved and missed by all who knew him.
Peter Strongwater, May 31, 1941 – November 19, 2014