A Low-Key Approach
Perry Anthony Thompson spent some of his spare time photographing the occasional celebrity -- like Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston -- at parties, concerts, and sometimes in his photo studio at home in Williamstown, N.J., for teenage music magazines. His approach was low-key.
"He wasn't pushy," said his wife, Charlette, who sometimes went with him backstage after a concert, when she wasn't home with their two daughters, Ashley, 7, and Chelsea, 3. "He'd say, 'Hi, my name is Perry Thompson, and I'm shooting for such-and-such a magazine.'" When he was assigned to do a portrait at his home, he rummaged through the props he had in his 4,400-square-foot house set on a half-acre of land. Mr. Thompson, 36, had dozens of painted backdrops in every color. "Purple, green, orange, yellow, two-tone ones, yellow turning into red, silk drops, paper drops, black ones, white ones," Mrs. Thompson said.
He was no less meticulous when it came to photographing his children. On Christmas Eves, he spent hours posing them in front of the tree. This year, Mrs. Thompson was to be the photographer. "I have to carry on the tradition and do it myself," she said. "He would have wanted it."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 28, 2001.