Emergency *ooof*: Moving

Oh Christ Almighty!

This is not a blog on religion. Do read on.

Shall I leave it at that? It’s pretty much descriptive of my initial analysis of the latest bombshell that Sarah Dunn has dropped on us. What an image. Well, two images, of which I am only going to look at one although both elicited the same reaction from me. Because they contain something extremely beautiful: a handsome man who is laughing. Image 1  is gorgeous, but photographically not as deep a mine as Image 2. So picture 2 it is.

Richard Armitage by Sarah Dunn, 2013

A very happy Richard Armitage photographed b/w. Dressed in a pair of denim trousers and an informal, dark shirt, Armitage is sitting on a large wooden box in a studio. There is a mottled grey background behind him, the box is placed in the centre of the image with Armitage himself assuming an informal pose: He has placed his bum on the top of the box and dangles his jean-clad legs diagonally off the box so that a corner of the box sits between his thighs. The sitter’s hands are gripping two diagonally opposite corners of the box. His torso is slightly inclined forwards, as are neck and head, so that the face is tilting down at an angle. The whole body is at a 20 degree angle to the camera towards our left.

What an image! It totally hits upon first sight, despite a couple of niggles. Not sure whether it is the cropping or the framing of the image, but the left foot has been cut off (not that anyone would notice…) and there appears to be a horizon line in the image – the backdrop meeting the floor? – that is not horizontal. But does that really detract? No. Because the image is perfectly lit, not too intense, and the light nicely catches the sitter’s face from his left but spills over far enough to reach over to the right, leaving the prominent nose of the sitter in sharp detail and brightening up the pearly whites.

What an image! If you look at the photograph with more than just the ovaries – no judgment inferred; I frequently employ my reproductive organs for the sake of photographic appreciation – you will notice that it contains a very pleasing composition. RA has been placed in the centre of the image, with his head in the upper middle third. The vignetting (the shades of dark) in the upper left and right corners helps concentrate the viewer’s gaze onto the sitter in the centre, and mirrors nicely with the bits of dark floor at the bottom corners. There is a nice variety of grey tones in the image – from the brighter shades of white in the box via the mid-tone greys of the backdrop to the dark hair of the sitter – a tricky thing to achieve because b/w photography relies heavily on stark contrasts to offer a visual experience to the viewer. However, it is probably the great pose and the happy facial expression of the sitter that make the image so successful. The sitter appears relaxed yet not static, displaying the wares he is selling (yeah, we know that you know what you are selling, Richard) quite nicely: hairy forearms, thighs in tight jeans, and that gorgeous smile, even if that is not directed squarely at us.

What an image! My first thought – after beseeching the saviour to… well, to save me from short-circuiting my laptop due to excessive drooling – was “touch”. Eh, not as in “I want to touch you” although: who am I kidding, I do, of course. But as in “moving” or “touched” as defined by Roland Barthes. This image somehow touched me, and I was reminded of what Barthes said in his 1980 reflections on photography, Camera Lucida:

“The photograph is literally an emanation of the referent. From a real body, which was there, proceed radiations which ultimately touch me, who am here; the duration of the transmission is insignificant; the photograph of the missing being, as Sontag says, will touch me like the delayed rays of a star.”

And that is true of an image that hits deep. It is hard to explain rationally, this moment of being touched, and the reasons for being touched. Barthes distinguishes between two concepts of photographic effect. There is what he calls the studium, the objective interpretation of a photographic image based on available knowledge of culture, language/commmunication, politics etc. And then there is the punctum, the personally effective detail, the thing that actually touches, which relates directly to the viewer or which the viewer directly relates to; in internet speak “the detail that hits the feelz”. This is different for everyone, and for me it is the bare ankles of Armitage, his bare feet in his Chucks, and particularly the round ankle bone.

I cannot explain this fascination with bare male feet in shoes at all; I just know that I have a reaction to it. It is my punctum. And it makes me feel touched by this photograph, with a jolt of emotion somewhere between my heart and my belly, as if RA himself is reaching out of the photograph to poke me in the ribs. It is most probably also connected to the fact that this photograph is documentation that RA is real, was there. And despite the delay – after all this image must have been made some time in the autumn of 2013 – the radiance of the sitter tangibly moves me.

What an image! Now, there is no doubt that a happy smile will always be received positively as human interaction. Whether it is the toothless smile of a baby, the gorgeous grin of a beautiful adult or the toothless smile of a happy pensioner – we react to the signifiers of happiness and positivity. That is why we get so many smily pictures of celebrities. But not all of them produce a visceral reaction like this one. Why is this one more effective, especially considering the fact that the smile is not even directed at us and no gaze connects the sitter with  the viewer?

This is where the concept of studium comes in. We know that this image was made by Sarah Dunn. And we have recently found out – from the horse’s mouth – that she is RA’s “old friend and favourite photographer”. (She shot one if not two of RA’s known headshots back in 2002; you can read my remarks on his headshots in my 2013 birthday post. OT: Not knowing about their long-standing friendship I singled out Dunn (and another female photographer) in my post last year “They have created interesting set-ups or POVs that stand out from the rest of the photography – i.e. Newman Williams black-on-black approach (a personal favourite of mine) or the mock-intimacy of the angle from above by Dunn. Notwithstanding the fact that there are no credits available for the early headshots, I find it interesting if not telling that the two most recent headshots were taken by women photographers.” Self-reference over!) And so we know that there is a well-established connection between the photographer and the sitter. Which will be reflected in the resulting imagery, especially if the relationship is one of close friendship. Thus we interpret RA as being himself in the image: It is a snapshot of unposed life. It is the product of two collaborators who are having fun. You can see that the two people involved trust each other, can let go of pretense and timidity. (Conversely I am quite impressed that they are also able to reign in the friendly intimacy and be serious in order to produce the other, more polished and neutral shots – that is quite difficult to do when working with friends and having fun…)

Thanks to our studium we perceive in the image a notion of sincerity. And that is where the cookie crumbles: Apart from the punctum that may have hit us hard, the studium reveals that what has been caught on camera is *real*. By that I do not mean the proven existence of Mr A. He exists alright – I saw him in the flesh, only last week *ggg*. But I mean the genuineness of the smile and the laugh. The notion of sincerity makes the picture more documentary in nature, it makes us empathetic to the depicted mood. We mirror the conveyed feeling, especially because it is a scene of joy, and switch off our unnecessary APM in regards to supposedly unloved modelling activities. In short, the notion of sincerity that is conveyed gives the image more authority and authenticity because we feel that it isn’t an act but it is *real*, the truth. And the idea of a genuinely happy sitter touches us radiantly and warmly.

What an image, indeed! A true smile-facilitator and joy-bringer. There is nothing better than witnessing happiness, and that is what this image does, it conveys relaxed, carefree happiness with the wide smile and the eyes closed in the exuberance of feeling. This – and the other smily happy picture – are easily the best ones I have seen from Dunn yet. Just because of their sincerity. While her other Armitage imagery is photographically flawless and polished, these hit much deeper and feel much more alive. There is notable emotion in them, something that is lacking in most of the other promo shots of RA, despite the evocative poses and the occasional smoulder. And that is probably also the reason why Dunn only released the images now: They were unusable for promo purposes because RA had his face turned down. The recognition factor for the general public (not the fangirls!!!) was too low. But even a year on and despite the current  “period weird beard” look (where is that Hobbit promo picture, btw??) this picture is welcome. Better late than never. Thank you, Ms Dunn.

She was in the makeshift kitchen in the corner of the warehouse, rustling up a cup of tea for herself and her helper. Returning from the last trip down the ramp to the moving van, he stood in the middle of the floor, his gaze flickering over the empty space. “Ach, I’m exhausted”, he spat. “What the hell have you got in your boxes? Moving your stuff has really taken it out of me! I need to sit down.” She smiled at him and pointed at the last remaining box in the corner. “Why don’t you sit there?” He glanced at the wooden crate and quipped with a wink “Well, that is certainly thinking outside the box, but if you say so…” He moved languidly towards the box, then pulled it out from the wall and sat down on it, facing her, raking his hands through his hair and taking a breather.

She looked at him from across the room – and caught her breath. He looked delicious, with his shirt the exact shade of his dark hair, open at the collar and the sleeves casually rolled up to reveal his strong forearms. She could see the dark hairs standing out against the white skin of his  forearms, the veins protruding slightly from the strain of having carried the boxes into the lorry. He was holding on to the box with his bum perched on the top and his legs open and dangling. She felt a shiver going down her spine. Her gaze skipped to the thighs straining against the confines of his tight trousers, and trailed further down his legs. When she reached the end of the denim garment, she choked on the swig of tea she had just taken in order to hide behind the steaming mug.

“Are you alright, luv?” he asked in a concerned voice, moving forward as if to get up. She hurriedly waved him off to indicate he needn’t get up.  She felt the blood draining from her face. He was not wearing any socks in his Chucks!!! “No, stay on the box!”, she replied hoarsely, trying to catch her breath. “I don’t like to get up on a soap box, but is everything ok, though?”, he insisted, with a concerned but cheeky grin. “You look a bit pale.” She nodded vigorously. “I’m very ok. I am just enjoying the view from over here. You’re grand. In fact you are ticking all the boxes!” She blushed and threw her hand across her mouth. But he  laughed out loud, throwing his head back and then leaning forward with a wide grin. What an image! “Boxing day has come early!!!”, she thought with a grin…

Advertisements

145 thoughts on “Emergency *ooof*: Moving

  1. I really like that the left foot is cut off. It makes it seem more candid. I think the only thing that could make this picture even more perfect is if his shoes were untied. It may be silly but he looks very boyish with that grin and I think the untied shoes would add some more charm to a verrrrry charming man.

    Like

  2. Thanks for a much needed *ooof* Guylty! I totally agree with you about the “real” man, the sincere smile (at least, this is the feeling I get and if the pose was elaborated then kudos). The looking down RA is one of my fave. So many “messages” in his body language. A thing I love in this photo is that RA back isn’t straight as usual, he’s leaning down, as he wasn’t really posing. Just a beautiful man sit on a wooden box. I can imagine the beginning of movement, like he was ready to jump down the box after the photo session. They finished their work, he can relax, laugh and jump down the crate. Pressing his hands on the box he get down…
    The two best RA photos Sarah Dunn ever did. I can’t choose between them. They immediately jumped to my Top Ten asa I saw them. These, a couple each by Ascroft, Nearmy, Hassler. Oh, and some Berlin pics. These are the best ones, for me.

    Like

    • Good point about possibly getting up and off the box re. the hands. His left hand, btw, looks really stubbly and weird in the shot. Well, adds to the authentic feel, I guess.
      These images are so nice because they appear less polished than the other Dunns. Less artificial. Less focus on beauty – and therefore even more attractive?
      Yeah, I have to say that these two have really catapulted SD into my top ten, too. You do have to wonder though, whether that is because we now know that they have a personal relationship?? Maybe I am reading too much into it because of that piece of info…

      Like

      • I simply put these two “happy accidents” in my Top Ten. To move SD in my fave photographer Top 5 I’ll wait her new pics for BOFA, hoping to be proven wrong about my previous judgment 😉

        Like

        • Depends on whether you like highly polished photographs… In any case, I want to see that hidden beard picture. Really, I hate to be teased and then not shown the promised goods…

          Like

          • Ahhh I think we must wait until mid-November at least. If we are lucky they will use them for DoS EE dvd but I suppose they will use them for Bofa…

            Like

              • I tend to agree with you, G, I was sort of looking for that too….. seems to me, in the “instant” atmosphere of Twitter, if they wait too long for the picture, risk is run of a) people really don’t care anymore or b) by then lots of people don’t know what it’s even about (the “huh?” factor).

                Like

  3. My sister…that barefoot in shoe thing? Yeah. I have my moments of ambivalence with Sarah Dunn, (not so much regarding her art, but the marketing thereof) but she certainly does capture some evocative images!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yay, another barefoot male fetishist 😀 Don’t ask me why but I find that soooo sexy…
      As for Dunn’s social media marketing of her photography – IDK, but I can’t really get angry with her for that. That’s what free advertising is like. She’s teasing, of course, and she wants something back. But we want something, too… I am probably too sympathetic to photographers to be affronted or put off by her SM marketing strategy. I get much more flustered with SM when used by non-pros *ggg*

      Like

      • I know…it’s a conundrum – I don’t mind the marketing itself per se…it’s a little much, but she is coming through and “giving the goods” so to speak. It was the after the fact kind of lamenting that people (read fans) were doing stuff with her work. Well, yes…legally, she totally has a point, but realistically I found it to be a bit of a double dip. (Not that it will stop me from looking at every single image mind you 🙂 )

        Barefeet…I have no idea where that comes from but ah yeah 😀

        Like

        • Well, I will say that I think it makes little difference whether the creators lament and withdraw permission or not – it seems to happen regardless. It’s up to the users’ own conscience to respect copyright. (Having said that, even just linking that picture in could be seen as a breaking of copyrights.)

          Like

          • Yep…it is a thorny issue with the advent of digital images and the internet – the rule book seems unable to keep up with the game in play you know? I’m not sure specifics of photography copyright, but what you do with “ooofs” seems to fit within “fair use” guidelines yes?

            Like

            • That’s how interpret it – I am not making money with them, I am attributing them, I am linking to the originator. Personally, I still feel a bit wobbly every time I embed an image in my posts. That’s why I usually include illustrations of my own. It’s just that it is so annoying to exclude the image that I am discussing in an *ooof*.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. Boxing Day has come early 😀
    Ansonsten: Dem wäre dann wie üblich nichts mehr hinzuzufügen. Das hast du mal wieder sehr schön herausgearbeitet.* prust* NEIN, kein MIst: Was für eine Vorlage!!!!!!!! Diese Kontraste zwischen dunkler Kleidung und den freigelegten Körperteilansichten sind sehr, ich betone SEHR ansprechend. Von so jemanden würde ich mir auch gerne mal diverse
    Boxen ins nächste Geschoss tragen lassen. Stimmt schon, diese “private” Anmutung macht das Bild so überwältigend. Mich triffts jedenfalls immer wieder komplett in den Solarplexus. Er erscheint mir so wie er da vor sich hinsitzt auch schlanker als sonst. Ist aber sicher nur die Perspektive. Die Oberschenkel sind sonst immer sehr viel präsenter. Bin jedenfalls seit dem ersten Blick darauf gestern abend immer noch in einem leichten körperlichen Ausnahmezustand……… Wie schön, dass Mrs. Dunn nochmal im Archiv rumgekramt hat. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nee, ich glaube nicht, dass das die Perspektive ist. Das Bild ist ja auch vom letzten Herbst, und wenn wir uns mal zurückerinnern, war er ja auch bei dieser Habbit Fan Veranstaltung und auch bei der Pinter/Proust Lesung extremst schlank. Beim Hobbit Event fand ich ihn ja geradezu kränklich aussehend. Jetzt sieht er wesentlich substantieller aus – steht ihm auch gut, wenn nicht gar besser. Nur die Haare waren damals schicker und der Bart, naja, der geht ja nun gar nicht 😀
      Ansonsten: Jou, RA als man with a van kann bei mir jederzeit mit anpacken. Notfalls denke ich mir auch ein paar DIY-Projekte aus, an denen er sich austoben kann 😀 Unser Parkett müsste mal abgeschliffen werden…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh ja, hier liegt handwerkertechnisch auch so einiges im Argen……
        Aber wurde das nicht auch schon erwähnt: Viel zu gefährlich, sich so jemanden ins Haus zu lassen! Mal ehrlich, Hand aufs Herz: da wären doch andere Themen VIEL interessanter, statt schnöde Handwerkerei (obwohl, so im Wortsinne ….. :cool:)
        Wurscht: gehe jetzt mal überschüssige Energie abbauen. Ist bitter nötig 😀

        Liked by 2 people

        • Handwerkerei in deinem Kontext – oh man, ich glaube ich werde nie wieder einen Handwerker angucken können, ohne *daran* denken zu können. (Mein Mann ist auch Handwerker. Hm. Muss ich nach Feierabend mal abchecken, ob das auch in anderen Kontexten zutrifft *ggg*)

          Liked by 1 person

          • Spannend: wie harmlose Begriffe in bestimmten Zusammenhängen an Doppelbödigkeit gewinnen 🙂
            Am besten finde ich, wenn sich das erst beim Schreiben ergibt und man sozusagen von seinem eigenen Witz (hoffentlich !) von rechts überholt wird (soll nicht angeberisch klingen 😉 )
            Aber ich liebe diese Momente. Ich hatte mich schonmal dafür bedankt, dass du mir so einige Anlässe dafür lieferst, richtig?
            😉
            Und wenn dein Mann Handwerker ist , bist du ja buchstäblich in besten Händen 😀
            Mir persönlich wäre die Variante Brain+DIY-Fähigkeit sehr genehm!
            Die Hoffnung stirbt zum Schluß 🙂

            Like

            • Das ist das Schöne an Sprachwitz – er entfaltet sich so nach und nach, ganz spontan, im Zusammenspiel der Bälle. Klasse, wenn man gelegentlich von rechts überholt wird, aber das Auslegen von Ködern ist ja auch immer wieder schön. Man muss eben die richtige Mannschaft für dieses Ballspiel haben. Bin froh, dass ich das gefunden habe!!! (PS: Wo is’n das Igelchen? Das fehlt hier noch!!)

              Like

              • Isch waas es nedd! Habe sie heute im Laufe des Tages mal bei Servetus gesichtet, aber stimmt, hier ruht still der See…….
                Geht ja schwer kontrovers zu hier.
                Was mir noch einfällt: wenn wir uns zum Thema Figur unterhalten: die beiden Fotos sehen aber nicht aus, als gehörten sie zusammen. Deins ist der Schlacks (fast wie früher) und das andere hat vielmehr *Masse* (ähem) wenn du mich verstehst. Oder sind das unterschiedliche, ja was Settings(?).

                Like

                • Nee, finde ich nicht. Das hat z.T. was mit der Perspektive zu tun, aber auch damit, dass man im “weißen” Bild mehr auf die Oberarme im zu engen Hemd achtet und auch den ausladenden Podex nicht ignorieren kann (Mannomann, “juicy peaches” beschreibt es schon nicht mehr…), während bei dem Bild hier das Hemd irgendwie am Arm weiter ist und dafür die Hosen eng sitzen, plus, wir sehen den Hintern leider nicht… Im Box-Bild kommt eben noch hinzu, dass durch den vorgebeugten Oberkörper und die sitzende Pose irgendwie eine optische Täuschung eintritt, die ihn etwas gedrungener aussehen lässt. Komisch, das war mir gar nicht so bewusst. Ich glaube, mein Auge gleicht das automatisch aus…

                  Like

  5. Ooh, I’ve been expecting you 🙂 and here you are!

    You’re right on, these pics (and even the profile shot that SD released a few months ago) have more sincere / less contrived emotional content than earlier ones she’s done imho. This one is like walking in and seeing him joking with friends, which as you say, he apparently was.

    My punctum was different from yours, though, and in the other shot. That huge grin & downward look, with (speculative?) thumbnail to his lips – it’s like he’s stopped in the middle of the hallway remembering, being in that moment he can’t forget. A less pensive version of the profile shot released earlier in having the same sense of being in memory- this one less distant, more exhilarated & in the moment. The other more evocative, “loved and lost” possibly….. (I think I get the anklebone thing too…. while it’s not “intimate” it’s not something usually visible, with men anyway- so grabs your attention.)

    Great ficlet too, I have missed those 🙂

    Like

    • I think you are on to something there – re. “a part of the body that is usually out of sight”. I have a similar thing going with armpits. Weird. Or maybe I just love taboos?
      Anyway, yes, the punctum is different for all of us. I actually haven’t really looked at the other image in-depth. While RA is *extraordinarily* hot in that (man, those peaches!!! that tightytight shirt!!! the biceps!!! *arrrrrgh*), I just don’t quite get why it is cropped the way it is – and it totally annoys me.
      I am slightly out of training with *ooof*s and ficlets – it’s been two months since I last wrote on photography. I want to get back into it, though, so your comment comes as great encouragement. Thanks.

      Like

  6. Huh….I guess he is literally “cut off at the knees” there, isn’t he? (You noticed that right away, and I was too umm distracted, I guess.)
    Frankly, I’m guessing that was to get EXACTLY the focus she wanted on the upper body, as you, umm, alluded to. Is it warm in here? 🙂

    Yeah, the armpits would be the same deal…. probably also what happens to guys when a woman puts her hair up when it’s usually down – there’s the back of her neck, all of a sudden…
    And I am definitely always happy to encourage your *ooof*s and ficlets 🙂

    Like

    • Wasn’t so much the cut at the knees (tolerable), but I didn’t like the composition with half the image as negative space… Defies the rule of thirds. Hm, I am getting a few impulses right now that I have to look at that in-depth. *ggg*
      Taboo breaking – my new hobby. 😀

      Like

  7. What i’m about to to say should not distract from my admiration of your analysis and rhetoric, which remains high, as always and I think the use of Barthes here is a great idea. That said, wow, I’m not surprised you like this photo, and it will hardly surprise you that I write this given our extensive discussion of Sarah Dunn as (non-)ironist last year, but I couldn’t have had a more different reaction to this photo (although I agree it’s better than the other one she published the other day). Apart from liking the composition of the figure and enjoying that we see his ankle bone — I agree with you regarding bare feet in shoes (and my general preference for smiling pictures over more serious ones), this photo again made me wonder why he lets her photograph him so much. (I admit I winced when he tweeted she was his favorite photographer, but that has additional reasons because I’ve really grown to dislike her social media politics, to the point that I am asking myself, Armitage or no Armitage, if I’ll ever post another picture of hers on my blog.) I hated the background; the whole shot seems unpleasantly grainy and grimy to me in a way that almost appears kitschy (what is she trying to hide with all that grey, what is the point of all the visual distraction on that box, I found myself wondering, is this some kind of style statement?). The smile seems obviously staged to me, the clothes are way too tight (which, while I like that on visceral level, doesn’t seem especially realistic to me if this shot is what it purports to be — the photographer capturing an intimate moment with the sitter — and the more I look, the more disproportionate his upper body seems to me, which I think is caused by the extreme narrowness of the jeans, which make his legs look smaller and shorter than they really are) and I don’t feel at all get a sense of relationship between photographer and sitter. The figure in this photo has at most a tangential connection for me to the person I experienced in London. i don’t want to say it’s more of a lie than any other representation, but “free advertising” would be a good label for this photo from my perspective.

    Like

    • Re: the setting, I think the whole “urban dive” vibe is popular with the Twitter demographic- I’ve seen a heck of a lot of senior pictures where that’s one of the chosen settings, and bands seem to favor it too. (I had the exact same reaction to the shot – a couple years ago?- where he looked like he was climbing a ladder up out of a submarine. Was that Sarah Dunn too?)

      I also have the impression, right or wrong, that RA likes to wear tight clothes when he “dresses himself” too. The most intriguing part you bring up, Serv, is “what it purports to be — the photographer capturing an intimate moment with the sitter”. I have some impressions about that which I haven’t really sorted through. Do we know what Sarah Dunn is selling? I’m not completely sure, myself, and is that her intention….?

      Like

      • Tight, yes, we’ve seen that many times before. So tight the seams are ripping? To my knowledge, this is the first time I’ve seen that to this extent, frankly. I have no objection to that, I like knowing how his body looks, but the fact that the shirt in the other photo looks like it’s about to burst at the seams suggests to me that it’s uncomfortable, and that interferes with my capacity to believe this is simply a casual, friendly shoot.

        Re: what she’s selling — this must have been from the series that accompanied publicity for Hobbit 2, no?

        Like

        • You probably have a better sense of the timing of this shoot than I do,
          was it late last year? (I didn’t know the man existed then, lol.)
          I do get what you’re saying, and we may be on the same page.

          Like

    • Ok, there is much in here – I am writing this in my word pad because this is gonna be a long rebuttal/argument *ggg*. Caveat: I am neither feeling antagonised by your criticism nor personally hurt that we disagree. This is an exchange of personal reactions/interpretations/points of view/opinions on the image and the way it was created. Also, I fully accept that you have the right to your own conclusions and that they are just as valid as mine. I am not saying that you must take on my POV. If anything, I am just sharpening my argumentative tools here, for the fun of it…
      So, going through your comment from the beginning, quoting you…
      “made me wonder why he lets her photograph him so much” – well, the answer is in the purported fact that they are friends, I suppose, and probably also reflects his own taste in the imagery that she generates? This is of course only an assumption, or logical conjecture. Judging from the fact that a) she is a very successful commercial portraitist and b) her images receive a lot of praise, he is doing well with that kind of attitude.
      “favorite photographer” – I winced, too – but not for the same reason because see above. I can see his point, supporting/crediting a friend. I winced because Mr A alienated his future photographic collaborators in one fell swoop *ggg*. Two little words would have done the trick: “one of…”. But well, I take things too seriously, I suppose, and RA has a history of saying one thing one day, and the opposite soon after.
      “hated background” – hm, quite a standard background, mottled. Nothing out of the ordinary. I’ll give you that the image is not characterised by sharpest contrast, something that b/w usually needs, but it is neutral enough to offset the sitter. But then again, I am not a huge fan of mottled b’drops myself; they often appear old-fashioned to me, although this one aims to look like an old wall (maybe it is?).
      “unplaisantly grainy and grimy” – I’ll give you some of the grainy. It is strange how the weird horizon line appears smudged. I could not quite make out whether it really is the horizon line or whether the whole thing has been photoshopped in. In any case it looked a bit funny to me that parts of the backdrop are in focus whereas other part on the same plane are fuzzy. The grain in the vignetting is normal OTOH, so no blame there. Interesting that you find this kitschy – as this is a current fad in photography to show one is *not* kitschy. However, that means it’s slightly over-used, and maybe that over-use of this kind of style/set-up makes you see it as kitsch?
      “visual distraction on that box” – do you mean the flaky paint effect of the box or do you mean the person sitting on the box *ggg*. I didn’t find it distracting at all, but that is a personal reaction just like yours.
      “smile obviously staged” – ouch, now we are getting to the heart of the matter. Cos here we are at loggerheads. The smile is what I found particularly authentic about this image. I’ll tell you how I arrive at that conclusion: While I cannot see his eyes and that way identify the sincerity of his smile, the fact that he is pictured in what looks to me like mid-movement, makes me conclude that he was spontaneously grinning about something while involuntarily moving in the kind of spasm that a mirthful laugh elicits. Also, the fact that he is not smiling brightly at the camera gives the impression that this was a snapshot, a mid-movement slice of life, where he felt unwatched, not on the spot. (I know I know, of course he knows that he is in the middle of a shoot and she can release the shutter any time, but most sitters do not necessarily expect to be shot while they are fooling around…) There is no proof, I only have a hunch. And I could be completely off-track with this *ggg*.
      “clothes way too tight” – well, yes, of course. But why is that a reason to dislike the image if you otherwise like him in tight clothes or accept that he dresses in tight clothes in RL? No polemics, an honest question – I do not quite see why the tightness of the clothes makes this image particularly bad. Unless you are alluding to some kind of deliberate over-emphasising of the sex-factor? Do you think Dunn is using tight clothes as a cheap trick? If so I would find that more applicable to the white b’ground image rather than this one.
      “disproportionate upper body” – optical illusion imo. Look at his left hand, how stubbly and weird that looks. The camera is distorting parts of the body. Plus, the image does actually appear a bit flat upon second glance, i.e. the threedimensionality of the scene is lost, and that way his legs look foreshortened.
      “no sense of relationship between photographer and sitter” – alright, this is where studium hits, I think. I will say that I was certainly influenced in my analysis of the image by the knowledge that the two of them are good friends. From my own practice I can say that there is a huge difference between working with sitters you are familiar with and those who are complete strangers. With a friend, the intimacy and laid-back-ness is predetermined. The sitter lets the guard down much more easily because there is inherent trust. More emotion is allowed to filter through. The photographer, OTOH, may feel less on the spot, less obliged to prove something. With a stranger, the whole shoot is a negotiation of trust, a slow collaboration between two people who are both seeing and judging, and being seen and being judged. It can be tense. This just looks fairly relaxed to me. (Or extremely well acted…)
      As for your impression that “the figure in this photo has at most a tangential connection for me to the person I experienced in London” – I would wholeheartedly agree with that. For one simple reason: The picture was shot a year ago. RA is not the same that he was back then. Not just in looks, but in life experience. This is nothing but a snapshot, a slice of life, just like most photographs are. That is RA, at one particular moment in time. He looks different now, he *is* different now. However, I find that particularly the happy smile is much more representative of his (new?) more care-free self than his old, guarded, quiet self…
      “free advertising” – sure, there is no way of arguing with that. And the way the images made their way into the public domain very much emphasises that. It is another instance of Dunn promoting her work via SM. RA’s name and his good looks set in scene are certainly an advertisement for her. Mind you, he is hardly the biggest name in her portfolio. She may be pandering to the Army audience, but I actually doubt she needs our clicks that much. She seems well established in the business, and was so before she started teasing the Army with her Armitage shots. Also, she does that consistently, with her images of other actors, too. Honestly, I can’t see the controversy in it. She is using all means open to her for promoting her work. I personally cannot feel exploited by that because I am well used to SM campaigns that do exactly this: give me a click, and I give you xyz. It’s a deal that I can reverse if I want to (by unfollowing or unliking), thus receiving the goods without paying. I don’t think she is exploiting him either. He has sat for her willingly, he has endorsed her. Interest in her photographs of him translates into collateral interest in him. Or vice versa.
      Right – wonder whether I have taken this the way you were going or somewhere entirely different.

      Like

      • (G, I cringed for same reason at “my favorite photographer” – what about Jay Brooks, for example, who arguably did a GREAT job? Maybe photographers aren’t sensitive to that stuff, but if you noticed it… OTOH, she may be the person he’s worked with the longest…. But you’re right, in several months he’ll probably say something different 🙂

        Like

      • Most of these things are taste issues, I suppose; re grainy / grimy; I don’t care for digital photos where the photo suggests its own pixellation to me.

        smile: I think we’ve seen this shy smile pose a few other times in other photographs, so that I don’t necessarily associate it with Dunn’s photos in particular or think that he reserves it for the intimacy of a picture that she’s taking. In that sense it seems no more or less intimate to me than a photo he might take with someone else except that he’s stated they are friends. (I do, btw, like that 2002 headshot a lot; it’s one of my favorite photos but mostly because he seems to me to be glaring somewhat, i.e., he’s making the experience ironic. As Jazz would say, he’s saying “take the picture already!”).

        clothes way too tight: it’s that to me, that fact interferes with what you classify under “studium” — to me, these clothes are designed to show off the exact contours of his body. Excellent — that is one of the functions of publicity photography, and I also enjoy seeing it. (or less of it, as the case may be, lol). Display yourself to me, Armitage, I am here! Extremely, in this case absurdly, tight clothing, however, does not fit easily for me with the notion of an old friend photographing an old friend in a relaxed way in an intimate setting.

        re: SM — we talked about this a bit in London w/r/t other people who give us access to Armitage. Her SM strategy doesn’t turn into a problem for me — as you say, i can simply avoid her — UNLESS she turns into the court photographer. I really hope he will continue to seek out pictures from other photographers when he needs them.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Nachdem Herba gestern Abend den Link mit den Fotos noch rumgeschickt hat, sind wir glaube ich alle mit einem seeligen Grinsen und schönen Träumen ins Bett gegangen.
    Du hast das Wesentlichste auf dem Foto wie immer mit Adleraugen scharf erkannt, hier sprach, bzw. schrieb die Spezialisten – tolle Analyse zu dem Bild, great!, impressive – dazu kann ich eigentlich nichts mehr hinzufügen.
    Ich mag dieses Foto sehr, weil es einen so privaten Eindruck vermittelt, da sitzt einfach nur ein Mann, kein Star, kein Sexidol – oder was auch immer – der glücklich und zufrieden ist und das scheinbar nur für sich selbst. Der an irgendwas Schönes denkt, nicht für den Fotografen, nicht für die Fans, nur für sich selbst…….
    Diese Fotos von ihm sind sehr selten, leider 😉
    ich lache mich halbtot über Fotos wie das wo er sich hinter die Leiter quetscht (für was?) oder die so toll hinkonstruierten im Old Vic, dieses ist einfach nur ❤

    Like

    • An diesem Foto ist so sexy, dass es eigentlich gar nicht so äußerlich sexy ist. Ok, ja, die Unterarme, die straffen Jeansschenkel. Und für manche Weirdos dann auch noch die nackten Knöchel. Aber normalerweise ist ja so eine Lachfratze eigentlich gar nicht ästhetisch: Man verzieht das Gesicht ins Extremste. Und doch ist eben so ein echtes Lachen wahnsinnig attraktiv. Besser als jeder suggestiver, heißer Blick.
      Das Bild hinter der Leiter – auch wirklich nicht mein Ding. Ich glaube, ich habe das sogar mal ge*ooof*t. (Habe ich: http://meandrichard.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/ooof-viewer-reactions/ – und ein ebenso ridikulöses Ficletchen dazu gedichtet, das mir geradezu die Schamesröte ins Gesicht treibt. What the fuck, Guylty, what the fuck???)
      Edit: Ach nee, das Bild *hinter* der Leiter gibt es ja auch noch, stimmt. Ich hab das *vor* der Leiter ge*ooof*t. Das hinter-der-Leiter-Bild ist so doof, dass ich mir dazu keine Analyse abringen konnte *ggg*. Ein bisschen Realismus darf schon sein…

      Like

      • Danke für Deinen Link mit dem Bild, ich hab´s mir direkt nochmal angesehen, allerdings hatte ich das pic vor Augen wo er sich hinter die Leiter quetscht und schier an Luftnot erstickt, bei mir hatte das allerdings nur einen Lachanfall und weniger Luftnot ausgelöst. Aber Du hast recht, alle Selfies und was so im web kursiert, wirkt immer gestellt und für irgendeinen Anlass produziert, das Bild oben – nicht, und genau deshalb diskutieren wir alle seit Stunden darüber was es bei uns auslöst und fast durchweg positiv.
        Jeder Werbefritze oder sonstige Fotograph würde einen Luftsprung machen wenn ein einziges Foto solch Emotionen und Reaktionen hervorrufen würde. Somit hat Mrs. Dunn erreicht was sie wahrscheinlich nie zu hoffen wagte……..
        Schamesröte? zu so später Stunde doch nicht mehr!

        Like

  9. OK: additional question — these photos do not say anything about sincerity to me (or very little — although perhaps I don’t really believe in sincerity as a category any more given the last three years of teaching The Book of the Courtier), but — when I started watching Armitage, interviews and photos were sort of in balance to each other, that is, if you were trying to figure out what was sincere, one didn’t drastically out weigh the other in terms of the data set. Four years later, we have many, many more interviews; and in the last three months we have seen as many candids/selfies of Armitage as (perhaps exaggerating, but I don’t think so) we saw in his entire career up until then. So we have a lot more evidence to judge by now, if we want to ask questions about sincerity. Including a ton of images that are simply caps from a casually dressed Armitage, answering interview questions. I just flipped through the tumblr Richard Armitage tag and saw three images of him that seem more “sincere” to me than this one — but they were all interview caps. So to what extent does that representation of reality interfere with the capacity of any photographer (my growing dislike for Dunn’s work here or there) to present to audiences something that seems sincere in a situation like the one we experience with Armitage?

    Like

  10. These 2 new photos hit me in exactly the way you described. Of course, my immediate reaction is gorgeous, hot, JFC, WTF, etc. Yet always after reading your *ooofs* it makes much more sense. The two things you mentioned, the shoes with bare feet and the smile, were also the things that stood out for me. I love to wear Chucks with no socks when I want to be comfortable; and though I know those probably aren’t his own shoes, it’s still nice to see him in those and imagine he loves to be just as comfy. And the smile. His smile–this one on the verge of or in the midst of laughing–always gets me. Probably because a lot of the professional shoots rarely show him smiling, so it’s good to see him less posed and more natural.

    And well done on that ficlet! I felt like that was me choking on that tea because that’s exactly how I would have reacted. 🙂

    Like

    • Hehe, as I said to cRAmerry (in German) – we are all quite predictable. Well, except for the sockless thing. Sure, the image hits.
      Glad to hear that my rambling thoughts make sense or add to your own POV. BTW – there is no reason to think that I have a monopoly on wisdom. I may be able to give insights because I know how these images are created, technically, and in terms of collaborative process.
      I’m afraid the ficlet was influenced by a current fad in Casa Guylty – there is a lot of wordplay going on here. As soon as I saw the box, all those expressions came flooding in. Not that original, but well…

      Like

  11. I have to weigh in the “love it” side. I like the smile. To me, he seems happy and amused. Maybe he has just remarked to Sarah, “Dammit, girl, these bloody pants are cutting off my circulation. Hurry up and take the picture before they lower my sperm count.” Which makes her laugh and then he laughs. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Kathy, you naughty girl *roflmao*. You go where I do not dare. I’d like to think that is true. Cos come on, those clothes are all way too tight. Makes me wonder whether they were from a stylist’s wardrobe who didn’t know RA’s size…

      Like

      • Yes, I can see it now. “Oh, they’re too tight? Sorry, Richard, I was given the size by (your personal assistant, stylist, pr flack, mom, whoever) and they assured me the pants and the shirt would be perfect. I hope you are not too uncomfortable.” Turns to awestruck and drooling co-worker, ‘I think he bought it. Come sit over here, we have a perfect view. I think his thighs are about to burst the seams.”

        Liked by 2 people

        • This is getting better and better. Can I hire you as my ghost-ficlet-writer? LOL, my laugh sounded rather dirty right now, and son was not amused… Oh dear, another facet of mummy dear exposed.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh dear, another sweet mummy moment bites the dust. I would be honored to be a ghostly ficlet writer. Maybe I can help you out on Halloween. That’s when the spirits are especially lively. The ficlet spirits can be quite naughty, but always keep their tongues in their cheeks, if they had tongues or cheeks.

            Like

  12. For me I see on this picture just a human being (but a very lovely/sexy/gorgeous one) sitting on a box and laughing of something funny his friend/photographer told him. That’s all. His smile is sincere because RA is sincere in his life, in his work and with his fans. It’s not a smile for a toothpaste publicity, it’s really a wonderful smile and I would be so happy to make him smile like this ! I know nothing about the tecnical of a photographer therefore I will not comment it – you do this very well and better than me but as what I saw till now of the work of Sarah Dunn, I like it specially this sort of dark grey I find very artistic. This is my feeling – as you know me for several months now you know that I prefer to feel than to think, like animals. May be It’s more sincere in that way. More genuine. Words are coming directly from my heart without passing through my brain. LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it is perfectly valid to interpret this smile as sincere. Hey, and even if it wasn’t – it is a smile, something lovely to look at, something that lifts the spirit as smiles do. Maybe we are in lala-land here, and the reality was that this was a choreographed moment. So be it. It’s worked on me *ggg*

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m with you and Kathy on this one Guylty – love, love love the smile and it seems very natural to me. And love the ankles, too – being naughty here, it somehow suggests to me that he’s dressed carelessly after an assignation (*cough*). But the clothes are very definitely too tight 😉

    Like

  14. Ode to a box full of RA

    Why is RA laughing on a box,
    Is it amusing he forgot to wear socks?
    Are his pants too tight on his massive thighs?
    It must be uncomfortable and so far from wise.
    Something might tear or rip or possibly split,
    Oh what a calamity, we dream of it.
    Boxers or briefs, what do we care?
    If some lovely body parts are exposed to the air.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Lovely oof! Me, I think these two b&w photos were part of Sarah’s secret stash of RA photos that she kept to herself to lick when she was in the mood. She has graciously decided to share them w her fellow AArmy members, bless her, so we can also lick them when so desired. Amen :)))

    Like

  16. I am with you I like photo 2 better. I like the fact we see a smiling RA. A hairy arm that works also. Now the sockless shoes that reminds me of the 80’s and Miami Vice. Mr. 70 had a cousin during that time was sockless in his loafers and to this day remind him of those days.

    Thank you for the *ooof* today and the ficlet, what a day, it is great to read an *ooof* and ficlet.

    Like

  17. I love his smile in this picture. I actually like the picture less after reading your *ooof*. The fudged horizontal line bothers me and his left hand is just funky. He has such beautiful, long fingers I can’t even imagine how she made it look like that. Back to the smile though, I love it!

    The clothes are way too tight, especially in the other picture. I don’t know how he was even able to cross his arms. It had to be cutting the circulation off to his forearm (keeping it clean here lol.)

    Yes, I would be choking on my tea! Lovely ficlet. Thanks Guylty.

    Like

    • Damn, I shouldn’t really write to kill other viewers’ enjoyment of an image. That’s not really the intention. Most of the the things I criticise in images are mere niggles, though – if they were real blunders, they’d be *spooof*ed, not *ooof*ed 😉
      Yeah, the whole tightness thing is funny. Especially as there is the Hassler shoot from around the same time which suffered from similar styling issues. Makes you wonder…

      Like

  18. I’ve just discovered I have a thing for bare ankles…….didn’t know that until I saw this photo. Just as I didn’t know I had a thing for armpits until I saw Porter strung up…..or hairy forearms. 😉
    Once again, a fabulous ooof Guylty – thank you!

    Like

    • Is it possible that I am corrupting you, Mezz?? 😀
      Welcome to the ankle love and armpit porn subsection to the Army. We take all fellow weirdos gladly!
      Thanks, Mezz 🙂

      Like

          • *grunz* Nee, kenne ich nicht. Aber ich leide ja sowieso an dieser Keine-Ahnung-Krankheit. Bin immernoch oft zu frisch im Thema und tendenziell uninformiert 🙂 Deshalb gerne mal meine Anfragen an die routinierte RA-Checkerin.
            Nochwas zum verjüngenden Lachanfall von gestern: das ist auch nötig, so gegen den schleichenden Altersverfall vorzugehen , denn wie stand auf einer Karte, die mir eine wohlmeinende Freundin geschickt hat im breitesten hessisch: wemmernetuffpasse simmer baldald.
            Lass uns aktiv dagegen anarbeiten 😀

            Like

            • Stehe jederzeit mit meinen (begrenzt erhellenden) Einsichten zur Verfügung 😀 (Mein Gott, das ganze unnütze Wissen. Wenn ich genauso viel über mein journalistisches Fachgebiet wüsste, wäre ich bereits Chef-Checker bei Techcrunch…)
              Meine Tochter informierte mich gestern, dass hundertmal Lachen am Tag genauso viele Kalorien verbraucht wie ein Kilometer Joggen. Ich sehe da ein alternatives Fitnessprogramm auf mich zukommen.

              Like

              • Lachend in den Kampf gegen Kalorien. Welch weise Einsicht deiner Tochter. Dann waren wir die letzten Tage aber marathonmässig unterwegs. Bloß die Waage zeigt nichts dergleichen 😉
                Aber es führt zu enormer Gemütsaufhellung. Und das ist echt unbezahlbar ❤

                Like

      • I think Angie had a head start on you in that respect when late one night about three years ago we were discussing the delights of chocolate plus RA (use your imagination!) I knew then there was no going back! You’ve done your fair share though so you can give yourself a pat on the back lol! 😉
        Actually, I lay the blame squarely at Mr Armitage’s feet…er…bare ankles. If he wasn’t the man he is, I would still be my mature, sensible, uncorrupted self. 😀

        Like

        • Haha, yeah, Angie has a lot to answer for. She was my gateway drug, too. Not with chocolate, but with slash, of all things. Thoroughly corrupted. And enjoying it. 😀
          And yeah, Armitage should drop that cload of innocence. What a despicable life ruiner.

          Like

  19. Exactly, Guylty! 😀 ” Oh Christ Almighty!!! Emergency*ooof* and ficlet were highly enjoyable,thank you!
    I love both pictures 🙂 *sigh* ( Hard to believe that he is just a form of carbon existence;) )

    Like

  20. I liked this picture better of the two, precisely because the clothes are not quite as tight. I can’t believe he actually goes about in spraypainted-on clothes in his daily life. So both photos felt a bit staged in that respect. But the smile feels quite genuine to me and I suspect, as you say, that it’s because he was with someone he liked and trusted. (BTW you’ve got mail :))

    Like

  21. Count me among those who get a little thrill at naked male feet in shoes. There’s just something about that exposed ankle bone. 😉
    This shot impacted me more than the other, and I think it’s because he seems to be in mid-movement here and was caught giggling at something that happened or something that was said between him and SD. (Totally my interpretation. :)) I am seriously loving that smile.
    An interesting note, at least for me … I share a lot of my Richarding activities with my hubby (not all — even he’s not that much of a saint LOL). I did show him theses two photos. He really liked the other shot, thought it was a really good photo of RA. Interesting male perspective. 🙂

    Like

  22. I like no2 better than no1, that is once i stop gaping and start thinking about what i am seeing 😉 i do like the smile, but i get the point that he would have never been able to sit like this on the box in 2 wearing the clothes in 1 😉 I like the downward head position, reminds me of the one Crucible poster by J Brooks, the eyelash one. I do like these 2 new photos by SD more than the rest though i generally much prefer the theatre, rehearsal, work shots than the glossy publicity type ones.
    I always think of a photo like this: how long can i look at this and not get sick of it? can i imagine it on my wall forever? i can pretty much say that about almost all Crucible ones but really not about any of the publicity shoots. Just not enough soul in them for me, although this box one has much more personality than the other ones.
    To my surprise i liked the wideshots in her exhibition, or liked some of them and i didn’t expect to, more to do with atmosphere and wide shot angle, but i’ll save these thoughts for when you get a chance to comment about the exhibition. Very curious to hear what you think. i was glad to find some of hers that i did like and then disappointed again when the ones she said were her favourites were among the ones i liked least.

    Guess if i want to see clothes on display i’d rather buy Vogue 😉 (don’t really do that either), but if i want to see people i;d rather see them snapped in action, at work or doing things and not just displaying themselves for the camera.

    Although i can think of 1 example where i like both… prompted by the guy on the left of my screen, the publicity shots for RH S3, it’s all i’ve seen of it so far but i adore those clothes and the way he looks in it, in character!

    Please write about the photo exhibition 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  23. This has quickly become one of my favorite pictures of him.

    And now I must yell at Yahell mail because they’ve been sending all my wordpress blog mail to the spam folder – unrequested, I might add. This is not the first time they’ve done this.

    Like

Let me know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.