Excerpt: 'AUDREY 100: A Rare and Intimate Photo Collection Selected by Audrey Hepburn's Family,' by Ellen Fontana

Read an introduction from the legend's son.

Nov. 9, 2010 — -- Audrey Hepburn's legacy crosses all cultures and generations.

"AUDREY 100: A Rare and Intimate Photo Collection Selected by Audrey Hepburn's Family" is a collection of the most compelling photographs of the actress, style icon and humanitarian.

Read the foreword from the book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.


How does one choose the 100 best photographs of one of the most photographed women of our time? I often wondered when the time came to take pictures at Christmas, why my mother always preferred to be the one taking the shot and rushed through those including her. Now -- after years of caring for her image and likeness and poring through literally thousands of images of her -- I know. I have come to understand what a photograph meant to her.

To my mother, a photo was not what it may be to one of us -- a memento, a way to record a moment in time that we will want to relive later on when everyone has scattered. To her it was hard work. A photo was a conjunction of factors that would immortalize perfection: the best photographers, designers, lighting, makeup, and hair; the right amount of sleep, luck, magic -- and her, looking as though all of it was thoroughly enjoyable and effortless. It represented as much effort and energy as went into a whole day of shooting a film. In some cases, the photo would be used for the artwork of a film's poster or become its iconic link -- it would carry all of the weight of months or even years of a film's creation, preparation, production, post-production, and marketing -- not to speak of the millions invested in its creation and distribution.

And she took it just that seriously. As if, she used to say, "her life depended on it" -- and the lives of all of those who had poured large chunks of their lives into its birth. My mother's photographs were a far cry from our "family snaps."

When my mother put her career on hold to raise us, her sons, it was also to be a pleasant vacation from the taking of these pictures. She resented the paparazzi in Rome and often told us that she felt bad that somehow their need -- their desire -- to capture her might somehow encroach on our private lives. This was indeed a highly sensitive perspective but she was probably also projecting her own anguish about it on to us. We simply didn't care at first, and then we thought of it as kind of fun.

How interesting that after all these years this huge body of photographic work is still one of the pillars of her presence -- her legacy -- along with her films. It is true that nothing can replace a photograph; it really does speak more than a thousand words. Without them, she wouldn't—couldn't—continue to be regarded as the fashion icon that she still is. And the work of Hubert de Givenchy, Edith Head, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, and most importantly Cecil Beaton, Hans Gerber, Pierluigi Praturlon, Philippe Halsman, Emil Schulthess, Sam Shaw, Norman Parkinson, Leo Fuchs, Willy Rizzo, David Seymour, Yousuf Karsh, Douglas Kirkland, Inge Morath, Marcel Imsand, Ove Wallin, Antony Beauchamp, Howell Conant, Bob Willoughby, Sanford Roth, Betty Press, Marc Shaw, John Engstead, Inge Morath, and John Isaac would be lost forever. How interesting that something that caused her such anguish and stress could have a long-lasting repercussion of such legendary proportions.

So here we were with the impossible task of selecting these images. How does one choose the best, and by what standard? And how could we leave images out that still told a story but maybe were not perfect from a technical standpoint, either because of the circumstances, the light, the lack of makeup, the circles under the eyes, the less flattering side? Perhaps these photos were even more valuable than the usual "expected" perfection.

I thought of those images that my father took, that barely hid the exhaustion of years of grueling personal and professional schedules or, sometimes, even her melancholy. But it was my brother Luca, a wonderful graphic artist, who made that quarter-of-an-inch adjustment to our route that sent us miles off course from our original destination -- to a much happier one!

Luca took the pressure off the beauty and perfection aspect of the selection and refocused it on the story. Each image would tell a story and together they would tell yet another. Their beauty would lie in the emotions that they conveyed rather than in their technical perfection. And why not? Why should photos be treated any other way than a good book, a film, or a work of art?

Sometimes little independent films touch our hearts more so than those blockbusters brimming with stars, just as a man picks up a pen and writes his first book --his only book -- and captures the imagination of our global consciousness. One man's mess is another man's masterpiece.

I am starting to repeat myself; this is what I said when I wrote the preface to The Audrey Hepburn Treasures. But it is, yet again, a case of what will emerge between the lines -- and in the case of that book what emerged between the documents. In this case, what will emerge between the images?

I remember when I was a boy one of my teachers explained why literature would never be replaced by films or television. He believed that what made books the ultimate and irreplaceable form of communication and entertainment was the fact that, we the readers, created the visuals, the images -- the film -- in our own minds, just the way we wanted it. In this case, you will write the story, putting together what you already know about Audrey Hepburn with the emotions, the feelings, and the smiles.

So we present to you 100 graphic words, 100 emotions, 100 feelings, 100 little pieces of time. Uncluttered by too many explanations -- clear and digestible -- ready for you to assimilate directly into your soul. Once you have felt your way through it -- a few times -- slowly a new image will begin to emerge: a work of art dedicated to her life, her joys, her sorrows, her mischievousness, her laughter. But it will never be final. As you change, it will change with you -- and stay with you. It is our hope that this book will embrace you and allow you to maintain a connection to this most lovely person -- Audrey. Audrey 100 is only a title -- just words. With this collection we want to thank you -- she wants to thank you -- and say to you everything that just words cannot express.

-- Sean Hepburn Ferrer

The Photographs

The photographs in Audrey 100 were chosen by the three men Audrey Hepburn was closest to in her lifetime: her sons, Sean and Luca, and her beloved partner, Rob Wolders. Sean, Luca, and Rob pored over thousands of photographs of Audrey before choosing the 100 images that are now before you. Each closely considered every photograph for its beauty, artistry, and ability to convey the person behind the movie star; the process triggered dialogue and debate. Sean asks in his forward, "How does one choose the 100 best photographs of one of the most photographed women of our time?" With consideration and patience, as well as a great deal of resolve, it seems. Ultimately, not every photograph that matters could be included, and not every photograph was agreed upon by every participant. But every photo represents a moment in Audrey's life that her family was generous enough to share.

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