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Smile: The Man Behind The Lens

If there’s one freelancer who has been ubiquitous in the twenty years of TWICE’s existence, it is New York-based photographer Alan Perlman.

Perlman, who started shooting industry events for TWICE in 1987, has been the man behind hundreds of faces who have appeared in these pages, but up until now, has never managed to land his own face in the magazine.

No doubt, it is a familiar face to any reader who has attended CES, a UJA or ADL dinner, a CEA reception, a major store opening in the New York area, or participated in a TWICE Roundtable.

Between November 1987 and August 2000, Perlman shot 383 rolls of film for TWICE (excluding the dozen or so he shot at my wedding in 1998). In late 2000, Perlman put his trusty film cameras aside and started shooting almost exclusively using digital cameras, a cutting edge business decision at the time that proved to be a boon to his bottom line, as well as a monumental shift in the way TWICE was published. Suddenly, the turnaround time for photos of live events went from 24-48 hours to a few minutes. It was a managing editor’s dream.

Perlman’s digital transition had its genesis at the first RetailVision event TWICE was involved in, at the Century Plaza hotel in Los Angeles in April 1996. While TWICE staffers were publishing a daily publication there, some employees of one the exhibitors knocked on the workroom door and marched into the room trailed by two Los Angeles Lakers cheerleaders.

They chose TWICE editor Steve Smith and myself to pose with the cheerleaders and took a shot of the four of us using one of the first iterations of a consumer digital camera to hit the market, and the first that most of us had ever seen.

They thanked us and disappeared, only to return a few moments later with a copy of the picture, printed on color paper. It was a revelation. (Steve still has the photo displayed in his office.)

At a poolside reception that evening, I mentioned the incident to Perlman, who had been keeping up with the fledgling technology on his own. As we discussed the possibilities of the marriage of desktop publishing and digital photography over glasses of red wine, Perlman got more and more excited. By the end of the reception we had vowed to pursue the possibilities further.

Three months later, at Summer CES in Orlando, TWICE published its first digital photo, a shot of Jack Valenti delivering a keynote address. Perlman was ecstatic with the results. Sadly, someone who didn’t know any better (um, me) neglected to archive that image once we returned home and it was lost forever.

In the ten years since, Perlman has delivered thousands of digital images to TWICE, encompassing industry luminaries, keynoters, celebrities, costumed characters and CES booths. And in the 19 years of looking through his lens, he has represented TWICE to the industry with professionalism, grace and a magnetic sense of humor.

It is long overdue that we at TWICE thank Alan publicly for his tireless efforts and the hundreds of CES miles he has shlepped over the years, lugging pounds of equipment and a never fading smile. With this column we do just that.

See you at CES Alan, the red wine is on me.