Gere Remembers Longtime Friend Ritts

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April 2, 2012 | 7:31am EST

Richard Gere has paid a touching tribute to late photographer Herb Ritts on the eve of an exhibition of his work in Los Angeles.
The Pretty Woman star shared his memories of the snapper before the launch of Herb Ritts: L.A. Style, a retrospective collection opening at the Getty Center on Tuesday.

Gere calls the artist “one of the warmest human beings” he’s ever met, and admits he still cries when chatting about Ritts, who captured iconic images of stars including Madonna, Mel Gibson and Cindy Crawford.

Gere tells The Hollywood Reporter, “I was 26 or so when I met Herb Ritts. Somehow he was in this group of actors. He was the one who was really nice to be around, unlike a lot of people in that group who weren’t, including me…

“There’s a very real reason why Herb was on top of everyone’s list of still photographers. He captured something in his subjects – an essential quality. We recognise ourselves. He had a warmth in his photographs that everyone liked…

“He’s one of the warmest human beings I’ve ever known… Something that I don’t think everyone realises about Herb is that he was an artist. He did fashion photography as a job but had the soul of an artist, and he wanted that shot. He was the kind of guy that whenever I see mutual friends who loved Herb, we start crying.”

Ritts was 50 years old when he died of complications from pneumonia in 2002.