Mario Vargas Llosa

Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa

Peruvian writer Mario Vargas will be at the National Book Festival here in DC. He’ll be speaking, reading and signing on Sunday 3-4pm.

Llosa won the 2010 Nobel Prize, which gives me an opportunity to post this portrait of the writer I took quite a few years ago.

I like to research a subject before a shoot, including reading at least one of an author’s  works, but this assignment came late, so I had time only to learn that Mr. Vargas Llosa’s  favorite novel was Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. It just so happened that I had Madame Bovary on my bookshelf –  a beautiful leather-bound copy that I bought from a bouquiniste when I was a student in Paris.

I put the book in my bag along with my cameras and lenses. After the reporter did his interview and I had taken a few straight-forward photographs, and even a couple of more creative shots, I could sense that Mr. Vargas Llosa was ready to wrap things up. I suggested it might be nice to make a few photographs of him holding a book. As he started to reach for one of his books, I stopped him and said that I’d brought a nice leather-bound book that might look good. I didn’t mention what the book was, but of course, he opened it, and seemed surprised and delighted. He said this was his favorite novel, and it was in French! “Really?” I said.

Madame Bovary bought me an extra 20 minutes of photography with him, and seemed to energize the session. He even told me of his time living in Paris.

Here’s a photo of the writer with “Madame Bovary”:

Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa

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