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Herb Ritts

Herb Ritts (August 13, 1952 - December 26, 2002) was a gay fashion photographer who concentrated on black and white photography and portraits in the style of classical Greek sculpture. Consequently some of his more famous pieces are of male and female nudes in what can be called glamour photography.

He was born in Los Angeles, California to a prosperous family who owned a furniture business.

In 1974 he received an economics degree from Bard College in upstate New York and soon after returned to Los Angeles to work as as a sales representative for his family's business.

However, Ritts started taking night classes in photography and decided to dedicate himself to the art in the late 1970s. His first break into the business occurred as a result of taking portraits of his actor friend Richard Gere. These photos gained national exposure on the covers of many magazines.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s he worked with Harper's Bazaar, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Vogue magazines on portraits of famous people and artistic photos of models.

Subjects of his black-and-white celebrity portraits included Kofi Annan, Cindy Crawford, the Dalai Lama, Madonna, Jack Nicholson and Elizabeth Taylor.

Ritts was also involved with directing several music videos. In 1991 two of these, Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" and Janet Jackson's "Love Will Never Do Without You", won MTV awards.

He died in Los Angeles from pneumonia-related complications leaving his partner Erik Hyman.

See also: The erotic male in photography

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