By Christine McMahon Tumpson
Photographs by Howard Stern
Picture this: Beautiful Beth Stern and her husband play dress up in the closet of their Long Island beach home, picking out clothing and accessories for her to wear in an upcoming photo shoot. Beth, model, accomplished television talk show host, and animal rights activist, is also styling the shoot, which will take place over days in settings personally chosen by Beth and her husband, radio talk show host Howard Stern. No location scout, no art director, no stylist, no assistants. Just Beth and Howard, in his new role as photographer.
Beth explains, “Howard was really into chess for years, obsessed with it almost. Then, all of a sudden, he quit, and said, ‘I want to learn how to photograph.’ When Howard dives in, he dives in full force. I became a guinea pig, a model living in his house. He was following me everywhere — in the kitchen, walking the dog, even in the bathtub! But within weeks, I could see that he was taking it on, that he was really becoming a good photographer.”
Word of Howard’s new creative outlet spread quickly, with Hamptons Magazine scoring the first shots snapped by the King of All Media. But, this is Howard and Beth’s first professional collaboration and we are thrilled with it. And with them. Beth has worked with WHIRL for years, and is a true friend here. This was our first time meeting Howard, and we were charmed. He was humble about doing the shoot, declaring it “premature, but I was honored that you asked.” His excitement and studious approach to photography is impressive, and when Howard said that “photography is light,” we reveled in his getting it.
But best of all, Howard talks about Beth like a husband in love, pointing out that her expertise makes him better. “She knows what she wants,” he says, “and how to pose. She styles it and takes the pressure off of me.” Working with a professional model does help with composition and movement, but the true test is the connection between the model and the photographer. That connection is fragile, and distractions or doubt that float into the zone can kill the shot.
Even harder for some is the idea of working with your spouse. Beth puts it this way: “I know poses that have worked for me all of these years, but with Howard, I felt safe. He makes me feel beautiful. He captures something no one has been able to — that trust and intimacy that only a husband and wife can share.” Howard’s take on his wife? “She was patient with me while I pushed her this way and that getting her into the right light. Because that’s what matters, that light. Beth turns it on once the camera goes off. And then, when she sees the photos, and says that they’re good? That’s very satisfying to have someone like her say that.”
Hair and makeup by Erin McNeill, erinmcneill.com.
For more information on Beth, visit betho.com.
HOWARD STERN: “Beth can’t take a bad picture, but she even thinks they’re the best pictures of her. We laid it on the line for you guys.”
BETH STERN: “These photos are my favorite that I’ve ever had taken of me.”