Tori Winn worked in Richard Avedon’s studio in the 80s. This week I’m featuring an exclusive series of short essays about her experiences with him, his studio and his work.
I LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY.
“Iâ€™ve always been quite lucky. In my early twenties I lived in NYC and needed a job. I was 21 and bored working in a quasi-aimless position a clothing shop on Madison Avenue. I bumped into a college acquaintance that serendipitously told me about an opening at Richard Avedonâ€™s studio. They knew someone who worked there as part of â€˜Dickâ€™sâ€™ studio team and they were interviewing for a junior assistant who could help support them across all kinds of activities. I knew who Avedon was and I was excited by the idea of being in a creative environment that would get me closer to people and things I admired and was fascinated with. I associated him with fashion, photography, celebrity and glamour. In order to get the job I had to get through an interview with Norma Stevens, Dickâ€™s business manager. She was intimidating and, in retrospect, a clichÃ©â€”the quintessential New York business woman; Jewish, 5â€™3â€ in heels, dressed top to tail in black with the occasional flash of colour as experienced whenever she would rush in and out of the studio on her way to appointments wearing her yellow rain slicker. Norma was nice but she was never not moving or talking. She personified the term â€˜mover and shakerâ€™ and was married not only to a successful ad exec but to Dick as well. She was involved in every detail of his business affairs and anything having to do with making money and protecting Dickâ€™s work. Norma Stevens was the gatekeeper to Richard Avedon Inc. In looking back I think Dick would have needed a lot of money to run a studio of about 16 people full time in the way that he did.”