Lots of *ooof*-worthy glimpses of Mr A courtesy of yesterday’s BS promo events. First of all, let me say that the “best” portraits always come from the heart. Those are the images shot by
loving fans, those people who see the subject with affection, who know his/her best side s, who notice every little detail, and who even take pictures of the subject with a view to sharing them with their friends. Although imbued with love and warmth, fan photos may not always be fully in focus, properly metered, or perfectly framed. But well, they make up for imperfections in their intentions. Quite a few of those surfaced yesterday on Twitter (and possibly on other platforms where I am not active), and I have to precede today’s *ooof* with a warm thank you to all of you who took and shared your photos from AOL Build with us, such as ncpat838, Kimanneshaw, mooseturds or soneekk1. I saw some wonderful examples of what I described above. Awesome.
For those technically perfect shots, we can look to the pros. And they had a good day, yesterday, too, judging by the number of images that have been released on various photography sites. I find it difficult to choose my favourite shot from yesterday, tbh. I very much liked the poses pulled in some of the Mike Pont shots in front of the b/w backdrop. And once again I am shunning the Forbes (whom I am liking better and better these days, btw – her love and appreciation for Berlin seems so genuine and so eloquent, that *this* Germans heart has been opened to her…
Yeah, I know, I am easily bought with a little bit of well-placed flattery…) even though those double portraits with Forbes were the ones in which I liked RA best. Instead I choose a picture that did not immediately jump at me as “the most *ooof*worthy of all”. Don’t get me wrong – they all get very close to my ovaries, but as is customary in this series of photo analyses, I limit myself strictly to images that are only of Mr A on his own –
But well, to give you what you really want before I indulge in my photo talk, have a look at a little slideshow that Getty Images kindly allows us to embed. I have chose a particular sequence:
So, why is Guylty only *ooof*ing images that originate as a portrait of a single sitter? Because if I cropped a larger image down to a single portrait of Armitage, I would be meddling with the photographer’s work, and would put a spin on it that might not be intended. I prefer to go for the original work – the image as it has been finalised by the photographer, untouched by me or any other third party. Such as the following, today’s *ooof*:
Richard Armitage poses after the AOL Build Q&A, NYC, 10 Oct 2016
As I said – not quite my favourite image – but one that leaves a few opportunities to talk about photography. But let’s have a closer look at this image first: Armitage, dressed in a blue, collared shirt, is captured in a head-and-shoulders portrait. Placed in the middle of the frame, Armitage is photographed from the side, standing with his right shoulder turned to the camera. His head is turned towards the camera, the nose pointing on a perfect 45 degree angle to his right. A slightly open-mouthed smile reveals his pearly whites and leaves plenty of crinkles around the eyes which are looking straight at the lens. On the right side of the frame we see a white, plastic electricity box and a strip of wall, while the blurred out background appears to be a wall, covered in signatures/graffiti.
What I like about this image (apart from the smiling sitter), is the pose. The look over/along the shoulder, is a very attractive, dynamic pose: Since our “default” stance would probably be to look straight ahead of us, the look across the shoulder always implies movement: We don’t usually hold this pose for any length of time, hence the shoulder look tends to be a movement rather than a static stance. In portraiture, it also evokes the feeling that the sitter is deliberately turning towards us (=the camera), gifting us his attention, leaning in. Combined with a killer smile, this pose can be devastating in effect. Quod erat demonstrandum [sound of a million ovaries bursting]
This is – in general – an extremely attractive pose. And for those of you who are either devoted hobby photographers or occasional
reluctant photo models, I would suggest you keep the “cross-shoulder look” in your bag of tricks: This pose makes for a seriously slim chin. Sounds funny, but is true: Should your sitter (or dare I say: you?) suffer from subcutaneous fat located at the lower jaw (…) aka a double-chin, then search no more – here is the pose you want. Chin up, shoulder out front, look back, look back at me… or so. Thus we avoid the chin sin. Oh, btw, DISCLAIMER: Guylty has never intended to imply that Mr A may suffer from an unattractive chin. No way, that chin is stubbled perfection *coughs*.
What I don’t like so much about this image, is the cropping choice. This is a pet peeve of mine that usually only comes up in fast-paced press photography images, such as this one. To set the scene: These images were taken at a minutely timed event – and appeared shortly after in the photo agencies. That means, the photographer had a limited amount of space and time to get his images in the box, and then had to get them ready for publication via an agency asap. Two approaches are possible in this scenario: The photographer chooses to shoot all images with little focal length variation and then crops images quickly on his/her laptop in the course of post-production, before sending them off. Or he/she frames/crops in camera by zooming in. (You can often tell which approach has been taken, simply by looking at the size of the image. If a closely cropped (= the sitter’s contours are close to the frame of the image) image is a small file size, then it is likely that it has been cut to size from a much larger original.) I can’t tell here, because I have not seen the meta-data of the image.
I am explaining this because my gripe is with the unsightly edge of the wall that is visible on the right hand side of the image. It may just be *my* boring aesthetic – I hate it when things reach into the frame; it can totally destroy a picture for me
unless there is the brilliant smile of the gorgeous Mr Armitage distracting my attention in the same picture. It makes me wonder about the photographer’s intention. Why was it left in there? Which purpose does it serve? Does it add anything useful to the photo? In this case, I don’t really think so – especially as it would’ve been easily possible to crop a tiny bit closer to the subject on the right and move the frame further up above the voluptuous quiff in order to lose the switch box. Mind you, that could’ve resulted in a pure head shot, and it looks as if the photographer wanted to avoid that. So my hunch is, this picture was post-produced on the go – to have it with the agency asap. Since it thus quickly made its way to us, the fans, I find it hard to be truly annoyed with it. In the end, we benefit from the fast turn-around times that have become possible thanks to wifi connections and laptops.
Niggles aside, what fascinated me about the whole series, is that you get to see how “posed” even the most spontaneous-looking shots really are. Armitage is signing this wall, supposedly, and is being observed by the lens. Except that he has to hold his pen against the wall, stand still, and smile at the camera – as you habitually do when you are signing walls, haha. The artificiality of the process is always a source of hilarity to me – and yes, even as a photographer, it kind of takes away the magic for me. It is “not real”, so to speak, and that disappoints me. But then again, not much in photography is real, these days, anyway. So in the larger scheme of things, this is just a little white lie.
Is there an *ooof*let in the picture? I have not written any of those for a long time. The muse of prose seems to be spurning me of late. But as a little fantasy to go with this picture – and if I didn’t know what the context of the shot was – wouldn’t it be nice to imagine that this is your boyfriend, reaching for the light switch and looking over his to give you a cheeky little grin before you turn in for the night? Well, good night, John-Boy…
PS: I hope the Getty embedding feature works…
ETA: Oh man, this bloody Getty embed feature never works on this blog. So frustrating! Bear with me while I update… Sorry.