When I first met Jonas Bevacqua it was while I was Kareem Black’s first assistant. We were shooting the LRG campaign for the Spring/Summer 2006 campaign. It must have been November of 2005. The campaign shoot was a 7-hour open bar/party/shoot. It was one of those things that only true geniuses could mastermind. An entire clothing campaign was being shot on one end of a studio while a RAGING party was going on around it. Kareem was shooting digitally so once the lights were set up and everything there was very little for me to do, so Kareem had decided that I should take 4x5 polaroids of everyone who came to the party and hang the polaroids on a wall. Kareem handed me 4 boxes of type 79 polaroid and basically said “get to it”.
For the first hour I was terrified. I was walking up to everyone individually and basically dragging them over to my 4x5 setup to take their portrait… Major names in hip hop, creatives, designers, pro skaters, actors, etc… To say I was intimidated is a HUGE understatement. There I was this assistant who no one knew forcing everyone to get their portrait taken. No one understood what I was doing, and to be completely honest neither did I. I love shooting portraits so I basically looked at it as shooting a shit ton of 4x5 portraits and see what happens. Somewhere within the end of that first hour a line had formed behind me for photos.
Right at the end of that last box, as the first few rows (75 4x5’s) were hung on the wall I get a tap on the shoulder and its Kareem and Jonas. Kareem introduced Jonas to me. Jonas had brought up a bunch of people he wanted me to take portraits of. I’m pretty sure it was Swizz Beatz and some of the LRG family. He was telling me how much he loved how the polaroids were coming out and was really, really excited. I was really scared because A. I respected the hell out of Jonas and he intimidated the shit out of me; and, B. because I had to tell Jonas that I was at the end of my last box of Polaroid. Jonas without any hesitation just says “get more”. I ended up shooting over a case and a half (250+ sheets) of 4x5 polaroid that day. To anyone who knows anything about 4x5 polaroid, that stuff is not cheap; but Jonas and Kareem knew something I didn’t.
That was the beginning of a series of portraits that would define my photo career for many years to come. For the next 3-4 years Jonas, Kareem, and the LRG family had me shoot 4x5 polaroids at their campaign photo shoots. Jonas always treated me as if I was just as integral to the family as anyone else and that meant a lot to me. Those photo shoots/parties were the highlight of those years for me. They celebrated the coming together of so many creative minds; most of whom are right this minute running their respective industries. I owe a great deal of my photo career to Jonas. Without his support I have no idea where I’d be right now.
Today we mourn the loss of a true visionary. A man with the strength of heart that could only be found in the Generals of the strongest armies history has seen.
Rest in Peace Jonas
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