Fan showcase + announcement: Guylty

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Regular readers of this blog have frequently read my complaints about tumblr. Despite trying harder, I have issues with that platform that effectively leave a large moat between me and fans who blog there. The primary thing that has drawn me there despite my gripes has been content — when content interests me, my patience rises to surmount the other obstacles. The question is how to get me to look; the best way is to comment here and link to what you’re doing elsewhere. That was how I discovered Guylty, a member of the RArmy (as it calls itself there) on tumblr — at some point I was free associating, and I couldn’t figure out if it’d be “ss” or “ß” in the word “stoßen,” and she helped me out very graciously. I added her to the blogroll, but it still took me a while to catch up with her. She kept commenting, and I clicked over periodically to her tumblr. She sometimes reblogged things that I had written, and she said something very nice about me once. (Sorry about that, Guylty, I should have been more grateful!) But tumblr changes so quickly, and the pages load so slowly for me, and I’m quite lazy, so it was a while before I noticed the thing that made me sit up straight and think, “I want to interview that person.”

The trigger was one word.

Aperture.”

You may laugh. But I’m totally serious. She was doing a series she called *ooof* moments. This was the first one I noticed, and I started reading in the belief that it would be a “what I like about this photo” piece that I could agree or disagree with. But it wasn’t. It was a piece on how the photo was put together — written by a photographer. “Someone who knows!” I thought. “Someone who uses precise terms to convey exactly what she means! Someone who’s going to teach me something about how visuality works!” And then I saw the word, “aperture.” That was the point at which I knew I wanted to interview her.

The interview below would be more extensive, if not for the fact that the story got even better. It quickly became clear that while the *ooof* moments are appropriate to the tumblr platform, which emphasizes visuality over prose, Guylty is also eager to reach across platforms with these pieces to find a place that is a bit logistically friendlier to conversation — like a more traditional blog. I, in turn, was struck by the extent of similarity between her analytical project and my own intellectual interests, and I wanted the impetus to engage more closely with what she was saying myself via conversation. Once I concluded that the *ooof* moments would square well with the content of “me + richard armitage,” and also speculated that readers here would very much enjoy easier access to and discussion of them, I jumped to suggest that Guylty join “me +” as a collaborator.

I didn’t make this choice lightly and I don’t think Guylty did, either; a blog is a very personal endeavor. I’ve suggested a few times, unsuccessfully, that someone could do a guest post — either these offers were not accepted, or in one case, the person decided to start her own blog. Above all blogging is very much a “for now” activity — things change and we change with them. If Guylty finds an enthusiastic reception, she may start her own traditional blog, with my excited support — but until that happens, she’s going to offer *ooofs* as direct content here (while still posting on her tumblr). But I’m thrilled by the chance this will give me and readers here to engage more analytically and personally with their reactions to photos of Richard Armitage.

Guylty also has a real life, so she will offer posts as she finds time. Her tumblr, which presents content besides the *ooof* moments, will continue as well. You can contact her directly via the “Guylty: About + Contact” page in the sidebar.

I hope that the (relative) brevity of this interview will be compensated for by the energy of interactions and conversations over these issues to come. Below the interview. Her first *ooof* moment here follows on Monday.

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Richard Armitage head shot

As we know from Strike Back, a picture can bring helpful people to us. Analysis of this pic drew me to Guylty: Richard Armitage’s professional headshot (2009), made by Claire Newman Williams. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com (since withdrawn).

***

Servetus: My customary opener is always — what got you interested in Richard Armitage?

Guylty: I suppose it was the highly romantic role of John Thornton that started my interest. I loved the character even though I am not fond of the book. His voice really got me, though. And the dark, brooding look.

S: What kept you watching?

Guylty: Initially — nothing. And then, a few years later, I happened upon Spooks, late one night. “That’s Mr Thornton!” I said to myself, and it completely hit me. I just couldn’t get him out of my head. The next day I googled him and stumbled upon Guy of Gisborne. That’s when it became an infatuation.

***

Unsurprisingly, then, when asked to cite a scene from Armitage’s work that she finds especially memorable, Guylty turned to Spooks. She chose John Bateman / Lucas North’s last scene in series 9:

Guylty reports: “A memorable moment for me was the “showdown” on the roof between Lucas / John (Richard Armitage) and Harry Pearce (Peter Firth). I cried my eyes out when Lucas told Harry he could never go back to prison because he’d die there. Richard’s acting reduced me to a sniveling, teary mess. I am still considering suing the BBC for cruelty in character assassination!”

***

S: Your signature pieces on tumblr, where you started blogging about Richard Armitage, are the *ooof* moments. What started you writing these pieces?

Guylty: Justifying the *ooofs* is a bit like “watching for the plot“: I only look at him because I have to hone my analytical skills. Yeah, right.

S: I have told myself that story at times (grins).

Guylty: Initially, the *ooofs* were pure drool moments. I just wanted to post an eye candy moment for the Army every day. But since I can’t hold my tongue, I started adding little comments to them, notes about what I found remarkable in these images. Gradually, they became more wordy, as I realized they offered a great way for me to practice my picture analysis skills and give the Army something to read, to discuss, possibly even learn from. If the truth were told, however, the *ooofs* are my excuse for looking at Richard every day.

S: Well, the analysis was part of what got me interested in Guy-lty Pleasure. I’m delighted that you’ll be joining this blog as a periodic contributor. Can you give readers an idea of your goal is in presenting them?

Guylty: The number one goal is to entertain. However, I love photography and, as a professional in the field myself, I (think that I) know a bit about it. I would like to spread that love and also share what I know. Photography involves so many unwritten rules — composition, framing, posing, location, and so on. They may be unknown to some readers but their impact is really fascinating to ponder. An informed viewer can take away so much more from a portrait shot than just the sitter’s outward appearance. On a theoretical level, I am quite interested in Roland Barthes‘ theory of structuralism and his idea of myth — which applies so well to all the images we are constantly bombarded with — not just those of Richard Armitage. I would love it if discussions arose from my analyses.

***

Asked to recall a second moment in Armitage’s work that she finds worth watching again, Guylty turned to the character that cemented the addiction: Guy of Gisborne, as in Robin Hood 1.7, in a scene with Lucy Griffiths as Marian, Jonas Armstrong as Robin, and Michael Elwyn as Edward:

Of this clip, she says, “I love the necklace scene in Robin Hood. Richard’s convincing acting makes it so intense: Guy transforms himself from a seething, angry man into a beseeching, love-sick puppy. I don’t think many actors can pull that off convincingly, but I totally bought it.”

***

S: So how exactly can knowledge of how photographs are taken or made enhance our perception of Armitage’s appeal?

Guylty: It helps us “read” the man, Richard Armitage, and distinguish him from his roles. I have studied many pictures of him and have spotted fundamental differences between movie stills, fashion/promo shoots, candids, and event photos. I think what we can deduce from the images will enhance our knowledge of the man. It is — of course — only conjecture, only one possible interpretation of many. However, it certainly gives me pleasure to look at his photographs and then match that with what I know about him, his career, and his acting.

S: Of course, photos can be altered. Can you talk a little bit about the editing of photos we see of Armitage and the impact of that process on our perception of him?

Guylty: Photoshopping has become very sophisticated. Hardly any publicity shot leaves a production company without some enhancement. I personally am not fond of that. I am a strict believer in the “warts and all” approach to photography; I value its documentary capacity above all. But photo editing is a reality we all have to face. Unless I see high resolution versions of images of Richard, it is hard to make out how much ‘shopping has been done. My hunch is: not that much, actually. He is an attractive man, and the few wrinkles around his eyes make him look friendly, not old. Where he has been ‘shopped, he appears a bit sanitized and almost blank. His current portfolio shot gives the perfect example of this impression. His wrinkles have been smoothed out; he appears ageless; he is nothing but a face without much character shining through. All of those choices are deliberate, of course, as these shots are aimed at casting agents who have to imagine him as a foil for a character. Personally, I think it is less the photoshopping and more the styling that informs our perception of him — both in terms of personal appearance (beard, stubble, hairstyle, clothes) as well as the photographic techniques used, the setting, and the pose.

***

“Honestly, it gives me the shivers when I look at it,” Guylty writes, but not in a good way. Servetus agrees and hopes to learn more throughout this collaboration. Richard Armitage in a photoshoot at the V&A Museum, London (2006). Photo by Drew Gardner. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com (since withdrawn).

***

S: I see so many “also ran” photos of Richard Armitage from photoshoots that make me wince a little. Is he hard to photograph? Or has he been employing less adept photographers?

Guylty: I doubt that he is hard to photograph. The camera loves him, and he looks good in any picture, even the duds. Mind you, his strongly angular forehead is a bit of a challenge for a photographer — he draws the shadows. But therein lies part of his appeal as an actor: the ability to appear shadowy, dangerous and menacing. A couple of shoots from his early career make me wonder whether the photographer knew what s/he was doing. But they are mainly marred by bad styling and stupid direction, both issues that Richard is not really responsible for. In the end, however, he can only look as good as the photographer will allow him to. That is, fundamentally, the power of the photographer — and good ones strive to make their subjects look good.

S: Earlier, I thought you were hinting that photography is a fundamentally semiotic endeavor; this answer, in contrast, suggests to me that you see the photographer as involved in the art of understanding people or their psychology. Can you comment on those things? Are they related somehow?

Guylty: A good photographer should and will document not just how the sitter looks, but also reflect the subject’s character in the image. In order to do so, one has to be sensitive to the sitter’s personality and psychology. So in that way I do think that the photographer is involved in what you call the “art of understanding.” Honing that ability to understand adds to the skill of the photographer, but also to her power, as well — we can shape and create opinion. While people still conventionally see photography as largely documentary in nature, involving the representation of a slice of reality at a certain point in time, every image we see is actually one specific interpretation by the creator/photographer of what s/he sees! In that sense, in people photography, a photographer looks at her subject, forms her understanding of him, and transforms this impression into the visual representation that is the photograph.

S: Back to the pragmatic: Can you recommend techniques, focuses, or emphases for getting the best picture to a would-be photographer who’s photographing Armitage? Especially to a fan who has a chance for a quick candid with him?

My main tip: keep calm. Hard to accomplish, in the (literal) face of such beauty. But what I mean is: take your time! If you are lucky enough to get him to pose, then remember that taking the picture is not going to take forever. It just takes an extra ten seconds to frame the shot well, so try to do that. Here are some more tips:

  • Be sure to know how your camera works, what it can do, and where the buttons are. Sounds obvious, but many occasional photographers are unfamiliar with their cameras.
  • Avoid flash if shooting indoors. It usually completely drains all natural colors. Even worse, it can make the subject(s) squint and possibly blink. Flash is unnecessary unless it is really, really dark.
  • If you can, steer him towards a blank or calm background that will not distract from the subjects in the foreground.
  • Set the camera on autofocus, but make sure the camera focuses on the face (better still: on the eyes).
  • If you can, take a few shots in quick succession. Even compacts have settings for serial exposure — quick clickclickclick pictures like those taken in a photoshoot.
  • Always shoot at the highest possible resolution — you can crop out unwanted distractions / bystanders / ladies on Richard’s arm in post-production.

S: Thanks for taking the time to introduce yourself to readers! I am really looking forward to this collaboration.

***

Guylty reports of herself: I shoot people. Then I take them into dark rooms and blow them up. No, seriously. I am a photographer. Originally born and raised in Germany, I fell in love with Ireland on a language holiday at age 14. Studied English and History in university, training to be a teacher, but was luckily saved from that fate by my ticket to Ireland: an Irish boyfriend. Despite a tendency for “intellectual w*nking” (see reference to Barthes above), I always maintained an interest in art. And since I cannot draw a straight line, I turned to photography to express my creative urge. With a BA in photography under my belt, I now divide my working life between photoshoots and my bread and butter job as an online journalist. When I am not shooting, I do a lot of social media, crafting, and blogging.

You can contact Guylty directly via the address found in the sidebar.

***

[Fan showcases are an irregular feature on “me + richard armitage.” These segments seek to highlight the opinions and activities of a cross-segment of the very diverse group of people who have become fans of Richard Armitage. Previous showcases can be found here: bZirk, Eli, LadyKate63, fitzg, Angieklong, khandy, jazzbaby1, Amanda Jane, Jane (part 1, part 2, part 3), Prue Batten (part 1, part 2, part 3), mersguy, Mezz, Gisbornesboy (part 1, part 2). I plan to continue this feature intermittently, so if you are interested in being interviewed, please let me know. My email address can be found in the sidebar under “About + Contact.” — Servetus]

~ by Servetus on November 9, 2012.

34 Responses to “Fan showcase + announcement: Guylty”

  1. Someone just commented on FB in response to this post that she had thought Guylty and I were the same person!!

    Lots of affinities, but no.

    Like

  2. On my feet and applauding. Well-done interview with thoughtful questions. I really enjoyed the photography analysis – I love my photog friends. (I am an editor and writer, by the way.) I look forward to more!

    Like

  3. Sounds like the beginning of a lovely collaboration. Very thoughtful and thought-provoking interview. Guylty sounds like a friend of mine who is a fine-arts photographer, but I know they are not the same person. I have sometimes wished my friend could photograph RA, because her “warts and all” portraits are remarkable. I wonder if Guylty will ever get the chance to do it.

    Like

  4. Very interesting interview …so everything begins and ends on the empathty,right?

    Like

  5. I love Guylty’s “ooofs” and have enjoyed learning more about her. Thank you for a wonderful interview, looking forward to your collaboration! 🙂

    Like

  6. Dear Servetus, thank you for such a nice welcome! You make me blush! I am genuinely thrilled to be given the opportunity to contribute to your exquisite blog! Hope that I can live up to it! And thank you also to your readers who have also welcomed me so far. Some of you I already “know” from tumblr but hopefully we can now interact better and more! Looking forward to it all!

    Like

  7. Dear Servetus, thank you for having such exquisite taste! It takes one to know one. haha

    Dear Guylty: It is wonderful to see a good friend receive the recognition she deserves. You are an inspiration to everyone around you, but since I can only speak officially for myself, I publicly acknowledge that it is a privilege to associate with such an artistically sensitive soul, who also happens to be a genius and a very kind friend. Thank you for the times you have let me collaborate with you in admiring and analyzing Richard’s beauty. May you become as renowned and respected a blogger as your hostess!

    Dear Richard: I truly hope you appreciate the outstanding, remarkable, gorgeous women who support your career. I respectfully ask that you do not forget your old friends online as your fame, fortune and prestige inevitably arise in the near future. We are your loyal Army, and we are right here working hard to spread the word about your many talents.

    Like

    • Thanks for the compliment; re: Armitage — I don’t think we’ll be forgotten.

      Like

    • B. – thank you for such lovely kind words! The reason I can continue with the *ooofs* is because of you and everyone else who have encouraged me with feedback, questions and requests. I value your input and your friendship!
      I know it has been said before by many others, but the warmth and kindness that the Army girls are giving to each other is remarkable and something that convinces me every day that my choice to come out with my RA love was the best I ever took. Paraphrasing his own statement, Richard should be proud saying “It fills me with pride to know that I have inspired an army of women to interact and act creatively.”

      Like

  8. Servetus AND Guylty…. together in the same blog post with lots of RA too?! I’m I heaven…….!

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  9. Thank you Servetus and Guylty for this absolutely fascinating interview! I love reading Guylty’s photo analyses and I’m glad she’s going to be a regular collaborator here! You rock,ladies!

    Like

  10. This is wonderful news! I love “Bildbeschreibungen”, especially the personal and subjective ones. Looking forward to new “oofs”. Servetus, thanks for this exceedingly interesting interview and for enabling this collaboration, All this due to the tiny little word “Blende” (aperture). Da muss man/frau auch erst mal drauf kommen! 🙂 BTW in the event of it’s getting too analytical here, there is quite a simple way to get us earthed again…

    Like

  11. […] kind of Armitage conversation any more, and I wanted to remedy that, as it was invigorating. Guylty’s arrival and the sharpness of her analytical intellect have also encouraged me to dare more here. Finally, […]

    Like

  12. […] you have to take lots of pictures because most of them will be terrible; I had asked Guylty during my first interview with her and she later expanded on how to get a good picture of yourself with Armitage if you ever meet him. […]

    Like

  13. i haven’t seen the oofs yet but as a serious hobby photographer I am certainly going to go and rectify that omission right away.As she says, if staring at him every day is what it takes to refine my artistic skills,then so be it…

    Like

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