The photographer who shot New York Magazine’s epic cover featuring 35 of Bill Cosby’s rape accusers describes the photo shoots as an emotional bonding session, during which many of the women met for the first time.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Amanda Demme recalls being contacted late in March for the cover shoot, which started off with a small group of women and was put together over the course of six months.
“In the beginning, it was far fewer women; a much smaller project. But it kept growing and growing. So we did a shoot in New York, one in Vegas and two or three in Los Angeles over the last month and a half or so.”
Demme says the feeling on set was tense, understandably:
“Some definitely weren’t at ease. I think the fact that they were shot in groups and were never alone helped. They had time beforehand to get touched up and talk to each so by the time they got in front of the camera, they felt safe. There was intense bonding. One by one would have been very different. Most of them had not met each other before.”
She’s impressed with the courage of all the women who came forward with their stories:
“The women were very very open, even though some were fearful. They have so much pride and strength. I don’t have a thing to say about the allegations, but for them and all women, I hope they have a larger sense of pride. No more shame. They look so beautiful. These are photos I hope they keep and feel proud of when they see them and know they did something very important.”
The other striking thing about the cover image is the symbolic empty chair. Demme says they chose a black-and-white aesthetic because they wanted the photos to be intimate and “feel like more traditional ‘sittings’ instead of ‘portraits.’”
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Image by Amanda Demme for New York magazine