A MAN WORTH A MILLION WORDS
Words by Russ Koza
“Life is a rodeo.” Yee-haw.
I’ve been checking my watch every couple of minutes for more than an hour now. We’re on location, ready to begin another photo shoot, but one thing is missing: our photographer. Suddenly, I see it. Barreling down the road in our direction is The Boogie Van. Behind a miniature Eiffel Tower sitting atop the dashboard, our lensman, Dimitri Coste, steadfastly navigates behind the wheel.
The Boogie, or Le Boogie, is a late-’80s full-size Dodge van that Coste has used to transport everything he needs to work and exist when he’s staying in Southern California. The van is Coste’s transportation, sometimes his home, and very much a symbol of his love for American culture and the SoCal lifestyle. It’s not unusual for Coste to fly from Paris to LAX, take a cab to the closest In-N-Out, and then hitch a ride two hours south to San Diego, where The Boogie is usually parked, before he’d ever think of renting a car. The Boogie has been the mode of transportation for Coste’s treasure chest of photo equipment, motorcycles, and even some of the most beautiful models the world has to offer. As it sits now, with the usual assortment of crumpled burger wrappers, empty packs of Marlboros, and photo equipment propping up his prized 1967 Triumph, Le Boogie is exactly the type of vessel that a guy like Coste should be captaining.
After the usual greeting of high-fives, hugs, and “Where the fuck have you been?” it’s time to get to work. But we’re not in the clear yet; there’s always that period of time before the camera starts clicking that Coste takes a few minutes to formulate his plan for the shoot and get in the proverbial zone. As everyone is arranging the final placement of lighting, battery packs, and the set, Coste will often disappear off to the side somewhere. I’ll find him sitting quietly with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, playing out the shoot in his head and finding that creative flow. Although we’re way behind schedule, I’ve learned over the years to leave him alone during this time. It used to stress me out, as I would think, “Why is he just sitting there smoking when we’ve got so much to get done today?”
But people as creative as Coste don’t function in the same manner that normal people function; they do things differently. This alternative way of operating may not seem to be the most professional by regular standards, but Coste is one of the most creative and talented photographers out there, so it’s best to let him work the way that he wants to work...