Back when Marc Hauser took a photo of a young John Mellencamp with his arm around his grandfather, critics claimed that this was the piece that Hauser would become known for, but he reasons that it just got him a few more jobs. Tonight at his Oculus Gallery opening, everyone gets to see not only that famous photo, but a renewed glimpse into more than thirty years of Hauser’s photography.
Hauser, who began his photography career at 14, had a rough last year after sustaining an injury rendering him almost incapable of working. All Terrain, a Chicago-based marketing agency, got one of its first jobs from Hauser ten years ago, so this December, “it was time for us to get to pay him back,” Brook Jay, All Terrain’s chief marketing officer, says. After going through a couple thousand pieces, a select ninety made the cut, all for sale at the gallery. And while hundreds of people show up to see some of his most famous and some previously unseen pieces, many understandably want to meet the man behind the photos.
“My uncle worked for the Playboy Theater and I wanted to do some work…then one day Stan [Malinowski] saw my work and asked me to come to California,” Hauser explains about his beginnings. From then on, he made a name for himself working with celebrities, ad agencies and fashion photography. But a career didn’t just fall into his lap. “You have to let people know you are around…when you’re traveling you have to let them know you’re there,” Hauser advises. But sometimes they found him, like when he was asked to shoot the private Woody Allen—an invite that only makes him shrug his shoulders.
The photos themselves are gorgeous, but it’s the stories behind them that add a little something special. “This man worked on the song ‘Route 66’…when I took the photo he was living on a grocery-store floor…it was hard times and his clothes were a mess so he’s wearing my coat,” Hauser says as he casually taps the same coat he is wearing. But ask him about his favorite photo and there isn’t a second of hesitation. “Dolly Parton, she’s the nicest person, funny and wild. I took a picture with her and accidentally bumped her chest and while I apologized she just said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m used to it.’”
For Hauser, it has always been about the people. “I love people so I shoot people,” he says. And while he does direct his subjects while shooting them, deciding how he wants to see things, “it’s great to catch them in the moment…telling their stories.” As the crowd comes and goes, thanking Hauser, everyone is pleased to hear that this isn’t the end. “I’m back to classic portraits, they’re what I love,” he modestly smiles. (Molly Sullivan)