[Lessons learned by spending a day with an icon of the 20th Century and the photographic icon sent to create a portrait of him.]
Many years ago (1980's) I was fortunate enough to be the assistant for one of the great photographers of the last half of the 20th Century - Brian Lanker. I got a call from him saying that we had to go and shoot Muhammad Ali for Sports Illustrated at his home in an exclusive section of LA.
Upon arrival, we were allowed a quick look around to see where we might want to take the portrait and we initially picked a location in the dining room. A very ornate table and chairs. It was a difficult place to light - low ceilings, not much natural light, so everything that we tried looked contrived and "lit". Eventually, we settled upon a setup that we could live with and went to see when we could get Mr. Ali to sit for us.
Mr. Ali's handler ushered us into a small office just off the side portico entrance. Sitting on the other side of a small desk was "The Great One" himself. He was on a call but motioned for us to sit in the two seats opposite him. After watching and listening to an often erratic and disjointed conversation (punctuated with much hyperbole and flare) 2 hours later he finished that call.