Fear, Loathing and Photography: A Mad Journey into the Heart of the Hunter S. Thompson

Portrait of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson at his home in Woody Creek, CO ©Jeffrey Aaronson 1990

Behind the Scenes: It’s late January 1990 and Jeffrey Aaronson is photographing on assignment in Aspen, Colorado for Town & Country. The magazine is doing a major feature about the shakers and movers of this tiny mountain resort as well as the many bigwigs and socialites who flock there during the winter.

Editor, Anne Hearst, has flown in from New York to conduct interviews and coordinate several of the photo shoots. Her list includes everyone from billionaire David Koch to socialite Teran Davis to celebrities like Jill St. John and Robert Wagner.

“Gonzo journalist” Hunter S. Thompson is also on Anne’s list, which amuses Jeffrey since Thompson has always prided himself on being a counter culture icon–the complete opposite of everything the magazine represents. He’s skeptical Thompson will even agree to be photographed.

Midway into this grueling weeklong assignment, Jeffrey is beat. He’s been on the go since the crack of dawn once again—this time photographing models on snowmobiles in Aspen’s early morning light, in ten-degree weather, no less. Knowing he has another full day ahead of him, he turns in around 11:00 pm, only to be ripped out of his REM sleep an hour later. It’s Anne.

“Hunter Thompson just called and said we can do the shoot right now.”

Jeffrey groans, “You’re kidding, right? What time is it?”

“A little after midnight. Sorry…he said he’s just waking up.” Continue reading