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Herb Ritts dead at fifty

Herb Ritts dead at fifty

By Barry Brecheisen

2002 isn't a good year to be a celebrity and fifty. Just four days after we lost Clash front man Joe Strummer; we have yet another lost. Famed celebrity photographer Herb Ritts was pronounced dead on December 26th at the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center. Although the official reports list Herb Ritts dying of complications from pneumonia, it was known in the inside that Herb Ritts had been very productive for many years living with HIV. Now you may or may not recognize his name but you surely know his work. For the last two decades his classic celebrity portraits have appeared on every major magazine. His images have also graced album covers of such acts as Madonna, Tracy Chapman and has shot music videos for Janet Jackson, Chris Isaak and recently for Britney Spears. He is a legend in his own right. Although openly gay, Herb Ritts was able to work freely in the mainstream. His work at times often portrayed homoerotic imagery but some of his most famous work fit neatly in such major men's magazines such as Playboy. One of his most famous Playboy cover shoots is that of supermodel, Cindy Crawford. Herb Ritts's work was easily recognizable shooting mostly in the black and white world. His photographic genius was his amazing ability with his usage of both tone and lighting. Herb Ritts will surely be missed but his work lives on. His images are currently gracing the covers of both the new Rolling Stone with Justin Timberlake, Interview magazine with Brittany Murphy and the upcoming March cover of Vanity Fair.