It could have been so nice. A portrait of the artist as a bashful man. Sure, we always love that, don’t we? Who doesn’t feel a sudden surge of motherly emotion towards a seemlingly shy man? A man who deflects attention at every opportunity, who blushes bashfully when his looks are praised and who squirms shyly when confronted with his sex symbol reputation. Real life doesn’t often present you with such unassuming and gentle manners in handsome hunks. Aw. And then some random photographer bursts the bubble. The artist in a portrait that holds the dubious distinction of being the latest in a line of duds.
Was this A___ being bashful? He had sat for a series of photographs with photographer George Pimentel in a Canadian bookstore on the occasion of the Hobbit promo tour. If you have a look at the images (which can be easily accessed in the Promo Gallery on RAnet ) you will see that the result is a number of really nice half-length portraits of A___ , all nicely composed with bokeh (blurred backgrounds) and A___ in various sitting and standing poses. And then we have three images that stand out like sore thumbs. Today’s dud is one example that I would like to take a closer look at.
There is nothing wrong with the chosen set-up of this image. In fact, Pimentel got it wonderfully right with a number of half-lengths that were shot in front of the same backdrop – a grey curtain that matches A___ ‘s outfit nicely while giving inobtrusive depth and texture to the background. It is just when he is zooming in on Armitage that things go badly wrong. All of a sudden A___ ‘s head seems out of proportion.
This is the barrel distortion interfering with A___ ‘s face again (cf. this post I wrote a while ago on me+richard that discussed the problem.). It is caused by the photographer getting too close to his subject while zooming out with his lens. As a result A___ ‘s honker suddenly is at the centre of attention, blown out of proportion, far too big for the face which it usually fits so well. No wonder A___ is bending his head – gravity pulls. Or is he bowing his head in shame? If so, then shame on you, photographer, for getting this man’s distinctive nose so wrong!
This is a particular pity as the images could’ve been a very nice antidote to the more posed shots of half-length format. Here, A___ appears more animated – he is caught in mid-gesture. He laughs, grins, talks and bows his head. On danger of over-pushing the point: I personally quite like those kind of images as they give me more of an insight into A___ the man rather than A___ the actor. Any picture where the sitter is aware of the photographer is a conscious collaboration between the two people. Whether the sitter is asked to acknowledge the camera or not – his/her posing is done as a reaction to being photographed, sometimes with the direction of a photographer, sometimes on the sitter’s own impetus. While A___ undoubtedly is aware of the photographer’s presence in the three duds, he is not consciously posing here, but probably chatting with Pimentel and moving naturally. The photographer continues shooting, in the hope of catching some images that will show a different, less guarded, less deliberate aspect of the sitter. Often, this way you get the best and the most telling shots. (cf. my comments on the Victoria Will shoot ) Or you create horrible duds when you don’t pay attention. Duh!
Now, a lot of the Army members would probably agree with me that A___ ‘s impressive nose is one of his best features. This is the nose of a *man*, not a baby-cute, stubby nosynosynosynose [imagine cooing female]. It adds distinction to A___ ‘s face, and since he is now of a physical age where the signs of sophistication and of age are not premature but rather an indication of experience and longevity, the majestic proportions of his nose probably will add to his appeal as a serious actor.
Except that here, I am not overcome with awe, but with giggles. Is it just me or is anyone else reminded of Gonzo’s honker. They could be twins, separated at birth. Actually, I would not be surprised if Pimentel had used the Gonzo image as his cue. Just kiddin’ – but he definitely has managed to make the “Armitagian beak” the centre of the image… I leave you with this:
PS: If you want more evidence, click here.
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