LOS ANGELES, CA.-
Long before Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Johnny Depp, Keneau Reeves to name but a few of the "A" list stars had landed in the red carpet circle of fame they were struggling actors with little but a dream. While these young stars were in pursuit of careers on the big screen, a visionary blond photographer artist by the name of Karen Bystedt
arrived in Hollywood fresh out of New York Film School. Bystedt was in search of her niche. Unlike the famed George Hurrell of the 1930's who photographed stars like Gary Cooper, Greta Garbo and Clark Gable after they became Hollywood legend, Bystedt set a course to find those actors who had special qualities and dynamics to become Hollywood legend. Her early journey was a road more like Norman Seeff and her iconic photos of the same caliber. Like Seeff, Bystedt's photography sessions with emerging stars were emotionally engaging experiences that resulted in many iconic images.
When Karen Bystedt arrived in Hollywood she was armed with contacts and nerve that would have guided her through the gates of the Hollywood studios and an open invitation to join stars on location. Bystedt did not want any favors. She wanted to chart her own course. The NYU film student once called up Andy Warhol and said "I would like to photograph you." Warhol not only agreed to the photo shoot, he opened up and talked about himself. Rather than aim for stars after they were a permanent fixture on the Hollywood landscape, Karen Bystedt decided to find actors she thought would one day become Hollywood legend.
For almost a year she did her research, viewing independent films, meeting with agents and personal managers perusing through hundreds of photographs of young actors. When she decided on her posse she called them and set an appointment for a photo shoot. While photographing the actors she selected, she got their permission to tape record their dreams of one day wearing the title of Hollywood star.
From 1988 to 1993 Karen Bystedt did only what an agent, personal manager or a film director would have done, she identified among her selected posse of young actors the Hollywood legends of today. When she photographed Brad Pitt on the roof of her Hollywood condo she asked him, "What were his dreams.." He replied " What were my dreams? I haven't hit them yet. I'd dream of fame and fortune.. I'll be honest, part of the attraction was for me to be the number one guy." In a cemetery with wilted lilies Bystedt aimed her camera at Johnny Depp and asked him "Are you following your unique path?" he replied " I don't believe in the whole ' leading man thing' I want to hopefully with some of the roles I do later, make people see things in a different light ." When Patrick Swayze arrived for his photo shoot with Bystedt all he had was a white t-shirt. He told Bystedt "I am not big on wardrobe." Karen Bystedt replied "That is how I picture you." Sandra Bullock came with a wardrobe of dresses. In the end Bystedt selected a white blouse. During the shoot Bullock told her she had been rejected for a small part. She told Bystedt "Rejection makes me stronger and more determined to one day walk into the winners circle." During those years from 1988 to 1993 Bystedt photographed over 35 actors that are now permanent fixtures on the Hollywood landscape. Several are legendary and have claimed title to the coveted Academy Award.
Karen Bystedt was encouraged recently by a consortium of gallery owners to showcase her art prints of these young actors who she selected when they young and dreamed of one day becoming Hollywood stars. Last week the ArcLight Cinema Group
of Los Angeles, California installed a rare selection of Bystedt's framed work of Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Patrick Swayze, Jared Leto, Djimon Hounsou and Robert Downey Jr. Each photograph has a quote from the star at the time Bystedt photographed them. Karen Bystedt is considering offering limited editions of her work to galleries around the world.