*ooof*: Armitage Strikes Again

And this time he is killing us with a smile. That is actually fairly unusual, and therefore this merits another special edition *ooof* this week.

I really didn’t think he it would hit again, so shortly after the last photo attack release. In fact, I had been ready to look at some press photography from December 2012 instead. With a whole load of work piling up in the aftermath of the previous frantic *ooof*ing, I was busy tonight writing for a living (instead of my much preferred writing for pleasure) and dismayed that I had not been able to write the press-call *ooof*. And now I am glad, because *boom*, Armitage has struck again.

ascorft new pic

Killing with a smile. Armitage hits the Army hard.
Richard Armitage in yet another Robert Ascroft shot (2012)
Image via RA Bulgaria

The scene is familiar. This is the peeling paint backdrop that we have already seen in two gorgeous half-length RARA portraits. Now we get to see it properly – in situ, if you want. The new image confirms that this is a *real* wall – evident in the ledge that Armitage has squeezed his delectable bum on. How does he do that, incidentally? That ledge is only a few inches wide… those lovely peaches are getting squashed? I am already quite partial to an industrial setting for its loft connotations, but the more images I see of Ascroft’s the more I like how carefully he matches the backdrop with the styling of his sitter. That is not to say that contradictory styles of background and clothes do not work. In fact they very often do, and a stylish man can look even more stylish when placed in a shabby, dirty environment. But I have very much noted and enjoyed the way Ascroft has matched suited RA with a neutral steel backdrop or the white “nothing”, the shirted but denim-clad RA on a slightly shabby armchair and the casual be-coated RA in the street outside. Even sporty black-t-shirt RA was given the appropriate context: despite the neutral backdrop, he was placed on a rough box. It all makes sense and it all adds to the over-all feel that Ascroft is trying to establish. He is giving context with the merest of hints. So mere that we do not even notice them.

In this case, the sitter’s styling fits beautifully in the setting. The classic white tee, after all, started its rise in fashion as men’s underwear, a half-sleeved vest, if you want. I am thinking Rebel without a Cause, James Dean, Marlon Brando – the youthful rebels, displaying their testosterone fuelled charms via a rule-breaking piece of underwear. And swiftly became associated with work wear. Here is our subject unfortunately not quite dishevelled enough to give the impression that he is dirty and sweaty from a physical job taking a little breather from whatever hard work he has been doing. It’s obviously something really physical, hence he is wearing casual, hard-wearing and easily replaceable clothes. The styling has been carefully taken into account – even the shoes, which so far never appeared in the half-length shots, fit the style. Comfort is the key.

And comfortable he looks. Here we finally have a grinning smiling RA. Is that a reflection on the comfortable clothes he is wearing? A sign that he is enjoying himself? That he is comfortable with the setting and the style of the whole scene? Or is he just happy to sit down and relax? The whole feel of this image is actually much more intimate and personal than most of the previous shots. With the exception of the b/w profile which I found *extremely* intimate in its interpretation of an introspective RA, this image seems to offer us a glimpse of the *real* RA. Or so we think? We can tell from the shamefully photoshopped laughter lines around Mr Armitage’s eyes that he is a cheerful fella. He likes to laugh and to smile and to grin. Despite his “villainous face” he has a friendly countenance. If he opens up his lovely blue peeps, he looks very romantic-lead-y indeed. And here he is finally given the permission to laugh and to be merry. We applaud – thank you Mr Ascroft, it is nice to see the brooding character actor as a happy man. Because that’s what we wish and will him to be.

Interestingly, even though RA is sitting and not moving, and stilling his arms by clasping his wrist, there is nonetheless a feeling of dynamism in the shot. This dynamic feeling comes exclusively from the face of the subject – because a smile is a dynamic facial expression: We don’t hold wide, toothy smiles like this for any length of time. It changes quickly, it is a rare and a precious sight (especially in Mr Glum, here *tuttuttut*). And maybe because of its relative rarity when it comes to this particular specimen, we feel even more attracted to this image than we would anyway, considering the sexual markers that we are being faced with: the visible biceps and underarms, the traces of chest hair, the hairy forearms. And dare I say it the open crotch.

The latter invariably draws our gaze. Here’s how my gaze moves: Step 1/Top Floor: Look at eyes. Step 2/One floor down: Look at clasped wrist. Step 3/Ground Floor: Blush at juncture of legs *ooops*. Only THEN do I explore the marginal body parts, such as the elbow points, the shins, the tips of his shoes, the downturned shoulders. Thus there are clear linear movements in the image – eyes-hands-crotch – which then get contrasted nicely with the horizontal lines in the background. Is the movement of the gaze something that the sitter is aware of? No. Does the photographer know – possibly. The process of shooting is almost instinctive for most photographers. You look through your viewfinder at your sitter. But what you see is less likely the actual person, but colours and particularly shapes. The photographer’s job is to arrange the shapes in an aesthetically pleasing way within the frame. He has to compose all constituting parts of the shot in a visually attractive way. He sees lines and curves, angles, circles and rectangles, overlapping, contrasting, complementing. Composing a shot is quite abstract. Those photographers that work with large format cameras (or with a twin-lens-reflex) have to compose the image with a visible reflection on the back of the camera that is upside down and left-to-right. Rather than impede the composition it often actually helps – because you are more aware of the lines and the overall effect than if you saw the beautiful details right-side-up. I have often joked that, had I RA in front of my lens for a shoot, I would not be able to control the camera properly. If that was so, it would be a sign of my infatuation lack of concentration, informed by the *knowledge* that it was *him*. But usually, I am completely unfazed by what I see through the lens – even when I shoot nudes, I usually do not see boobs and bits, but only shapes.

Why is this image so attractive? It is not just attractive because *any* look at Mr Armitage screams “attractive”. It is also attractive because smiles evoke positivity. Human conditioning makes us react to smiles. It is hard to resist a happy smile – whether we see it in RL or whether it is on film/in a photo. And so this photo hits me in my belly. I have to smile back, even though I cannot even verify that this is a genuine happy smile (the resolution is not big enough for a close-up exploration). But somehow, some images have that kind of effect. And even Ascroft’s polished, hazy style does not distract from the infectious happiness of the sitter which is probably also emphasised by the fact that the perspective is dead-pan and shot from the sitter’s eye level. We are, again, right there, with RA. He is letting his guard down for a moment, casually parking his bum on the ledge, ever so slightly leaning towards us to laugh with us. “A blonde walks into a bar. – You’d have thought she’d have seen it.” You’re a riot, Mr A, and you should stop going down into the cellar for your laughs. In the words of one of your favourite bands: “Smile like you mean it” – it suits you and it pleases us.

Β All text Β© Guylty at me + richard armitage, 2013. Please credit when using excerpts and links. Images and video copyrights accrue to their owners.

~ by Guylty on May 31, 2013.

92 Responses to “*ooof*: Armitage Strikes Again”

  1. Sorry to be hogging top spot in the comments – just a little apology for all typos and the inconsistent font size. It’s quarter to 2am where I am. I wanted to get this out – but the details became a bit fuzzy πŸ™‚ Hope you enjoy.

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  2. That’s alright, you should see what I do at 2 am. Then again, maybe you shouldn’t. *cough* We do get so few smiles in the posed photos-usually serious, or that faint Mona Lisa-like smile, so enigmatic, or the good old smoulder. Sometimes a girl just needs a SMILE. And yes, it’s a friendly, benign face, in spite of its strong features and ability to look quite fearsome. πŸ˜€ Look at how beautiful our fierce warrior Thorin is when HE smiles.

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    • Good yawning, Angie. It’s nice to be greeted by a smile, for a change. It’s interesting that he smiles less in the staged shoots but is pictured with a grin in the more-life-like photo calls. Is he being typecast by portrait photographers???

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  3. I love that he looks like a young and fresh boy but with the sensual touch of a man!!!

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  4. I get the “real” vibe from this one very strongly. I love the sneakers, and the way the shirt and sitting position let me admire his long, trim figure. I adore the lower wall with it’s gritty curb! and while the smile may have been asked for, it still seems to convey a genuine warmth πŸ™‚

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    • It all comes together really nicely, doesn’t it? Although one could argue that a gritty backdrop like this is more apt for a grim look than a grin. Not complaining – I think this works really well.

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  5. I can go through and rationalize.

    This is great! Thanks for the rush effort.

    1) My eyes move in exactly the same pattern as yours do. With the addition that I then think, “can I expose this photo further and see the third thing on that list.” And then bang my head on the desk.

    2) the smile — the whole question of the genuine vs non genuine smile in humans is a fascinating one. It turns out that this has been studied by experts (it’s the same field roughly that analyzes microexpressions). I downloaded a bunch of research articles about it and then never wrote about it, but while the actual cues between a real smile and a feigned one are hard to measure empirically, it can be done, and also, it’s rarely the case that humans make a mistake in interpreting them in real life, I guess. (As opposed to photos). It has to do with which eye muscles are engaged (the sincere smile is called the “Duchenne” smile, and involves the muscles around the eyes and not just the zygoma major. (Answering this question was why I started writing the anatomy posts, back in the day. Got a little sidetracked there.)

    My own feeling here is that this is not the “real” Armitage smile but I agree that the photo resolution as we have it tonight is insufficient to say. My benchmark for the “real” Armitage smile is the frontal pic w/Tami Lane — his cheeks are lifted high enough that his eyes seem a bit smaller (i.e., orbicularis oculi is engaged, as the smile theorists say it should be). This one gets close, though. At the same time, even a not totally sincere smile, if it’s not obviously fake — the smile you get from a waitress — because it implies the willingness ot let one’s guard down — and I agree, that is really, really obvious here.

    Excellent, excellent!

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    • Smiles are a fascinating subject. I did not really delve into the physicality of it at all here, but it is something that I often ponder. (I hope you will write that article you did all the research for, at some stage, Serv.) Although we can all recognise the genuine smile in RL, it seems almost impossible in recorded smiles. As the previous *ooof*s prove – there was controversy in the comments about the real-ness of RA’s smile. Or whether he was smiling at all, actually. When it comes to photography, I think the interpretation of a facial expression is decisively influenced by the viewer’s mood and mental state at the time of viewing. I am much more inclined to see happiness in other people’s countenance when I am happy myself. It’s probably that human thing of searching for similarities in the other. Thus – as an inherently cheerful person – I am always inclined to see RA leaning towards a smile rather than a grump, however neutral his facial expression may be. Yeah, we “make” our own reality, don’t we?
      I am not sure if this is “the real RA”, either. The question is, *can* he ever be the real RA when he is consciously taking part in a photo shoot??? From my own experience in front of the camera: My response to myself in a pic is always “that’s not me”. It’s an act that has been put on. Only a candid that I am truly unaware of being taken will show me *as I am*. Candid RA images do not even do that – because even if he does not see the individual photo being made at a red-carpet-event, he undoubtedly knows that the photographers are there to snap him, and he acts accordingly. That leaves paparrazzi stuff – and I very much object to that. As much as I want to see the *real RA*, his privacy must always be paramount.

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      • http://4put.ru/view-max-picture.php?id=1936544
        http://4put.ru/view-max-picture.php?id=1936548
        LINKS to high-res of those latest two photos. πŸ˜€ You’re welcome. Study that smile, baby!

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        • I posted links to high-res of those latest images but they are awaiting moderation

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          • Jeeeeeeeeeeeks – Angie. That was a wake-up call of the best possible category. I did not expect such a large image when I clicked. Wow. What a difference it makes to see a high-res version. I tend towards the interpretation of his smile as genuine.
            Note of warning – the pic is so big that you have to scroll down to see all parts. And boy, did my screen get stuck just as one particular part was right in the middle…?! Maaaaan. *fansherself* I mean, no, there is nothing to see there, but somehow, I don’t know, it was almost tangible. (Must be the lack of sleep – I am imagining things.)
            Anyway – thanks for this Angie. Brilliant!

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      • I loved the video images of these kindergarten graduates Benny shot behind the scenes because their happiness and excitement was often very much of the moment, natural, not those awful cheesy smiles you get from kids once they reach a certain age and become self-conscious. It’s just a joy to see them, just as it is to see Richard when he gets a cause of the giggles or something prompts one of those magnificent belly laughs. The spontaneous quality of it all. Very disarming.

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        • Spontaneous and naive = genuine. I agree – there’s nothing more heartwarming than a child’s unguarded happiness on camera. Talking of which – the few early RA candids are actually full of laughs and happiness, too. A sunny disposition. He really needs to let it shine more. As much as I love Thorin – I think he has to let go of him, soon, though. He is a heavy character, and not necessarily good for his own mental balance, it seems.

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          • That’s why I think he needs to do some lighter fare, too–all that emotional baggage characters like Thorin bring with them can’t be good for the psyche long term, can they? I know Guy was beginning to gnaw at him a bit, too–going around with a face like thunder, he said–and it wasn’t exactly all giggles and grins playing Lucas or Porter.

            Or Gary (if we ever get to see him).

            He plays the conflicted, tortured, angsty characters so well, but everybody needs a break now and again. I can tell you from experience if I had to typeset too many obits in a row it began to get to me at the newspaper. I am someone who likes to see the humor in life and laugh, too, and it just got depressing after a while!

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            • TouchΓ©. I think playing the angsty characters takes its toll. But Armitage is aware of that, anyway, judging by his recently voiced desire to play something different. I am sure he is delighted to flesh out Thorin once more. But after such a long time – three years – he needs to be put to rest. Good thing there is no sequel πŸ˜‰

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      • Looking at the higher resolution, what this now looks like to me is the first half of a real smile — with the characteristic left to right movement of emotion across the face, almost as if the smile hasn’t made it quite all the way across the face.

        I’m always cheered when I see him smiling because I am not a very smiley person — as if he reminds me to smile.

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  6. I thought of you this week, guylty. I work in Tribeca, the NYC neighborhood of lofts and scene of the Faulty magazine shoot, and came upon a “tethered” photo shoot! I was laughing to myself when I saw the camera hooked up to the computer! I have no idea what was being shot. There was a model and she was holding something I couldn’t see. Maybe a bottle. Anyway I thought of you. πŸ˜€ Sorry to say, the Ascroft shots are having less of an *ooof* for me. 😦

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    • Aw, love it, Marie – you think of me when you see a pro photo shoot – that is a nice image to be connected with πŸ™‚ And if my posts have made you more sensitive to such goings-on, and you find yourself checking out what they do and whether it makes sense, then my work here is done πŸ˜‰

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  7. Love it. Casual and sexy. Doesn’t seem posed at all. Just wondering – did you ever see the Tina Fey sitting for Ascroft? (my composite and comparison from Tumblr)

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    • Whoops, sorry this one:

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      • Haha, no, I didn’t see those. There’s our background again. It obviously is either Ascroft’s own studio or a favourite location. Interesting, how it also works with Fey’s much more polished styling. It proves what I said in the post – contrast between shabby background and stylish look can be quite effective. Thanks for drawing my attention to this, Crystal!

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  8. ok, went through and fixed the font issues. How do you do that? πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks for that, Serv. I keep having this font issues – reason being that I prefer to compose my posts in a word processing programme rather than on Word Press itself. When I paste my text into WP, it always loses its formatting (and I have to re-do all the strikethroughs, bold and italics *grah*) – and starts jumbling font sizes, even though I have a consistent font size in my original document. – I have not yet found out where you can adapt font size in WP. (One of the reasons why I stubbornly prefer Blogger – there you can adjust size, style etc and the click of a button. Where is that shit on WP????)

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      • off topic – A tip is to use Windows Live Writer is a free software that exports posts directly to WP.

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      • You can strike through in WP (button on text editor) and you can write in one font size. If you want to write in different fonts or font sizes you need to edit the html, which I don’t do (except to edit errors out of it, lol).

        I usually compose in WP, with the caveat that I copy everything to my clipboard before saving just in case there’s a wireless collapse.

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        • Oh I know that there’s a strikethrough in WP. It’s just that it is really annoying to use when your posts become too long. Then you need to scroll the page as well as the editing box. The lack of font customization is ridiculous – but then again, WP prides itself on being the platform of choice of IT-affin people, it’s probably deliberate…

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          • What I like about it is that it was immediately easy for me to use (unlike either blogger or tumblr, although my memories of blogger at the moment are hazy — I started with a tumblr blog for a different purpose and I remember thinking, every time I logged in, what problem am I going to have this time? I went to WP because a friend was using it and it was such a relief …)

            There used to be a button or a keystroke in Word that essentially removed all the codes from a text — I so rarely compose in Word anymore except for the purpose of scholarly writing, so I’ve lost track a bit of how to take care of that.

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  9. Thank you for another great *ooof*, three in less than one week. I like this picture with Richard smiling, it makes me want to smile back at him. Things I love are the white t-shirt, jeans, shoes, arms and his smile. By now I would hope that it is figured out that I love him in a t-shirt and jeans or that it does something for me, not that others are not good , because they are for the most part. This picture push’s all the right buttons. Now I have to try to go to sleep to get a few hours before work.

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    • Oh my, you are right, Katie – that’s three *ooof*s since last Saturday. I must be mad!!! (Or loving it…) Yes, this is a look, and a style and a pose that pushes a lot of buttons for me, too. Although it is actually not my favourite image of RA. (I’ll stick with morose but sporty RA for the moment. Irrationally.) But the happy smile certainly makes it stand out for me.

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  10. Thank you for sharing your expertise once again. I love the smile, too. It’s a bit infectious and a nice change from serious smouldering. Love the “very romantic and leady” description. Please Richard, can I have some more?

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    • Yes, Richard – we want more of this. We know you can do it. Give us what we want! πŸ˜‰ So, romantic lead RA. In a sweaty workplace. I am almost thinking “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” here. Now, there’s a thought… What do you think, Kathy?

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      • I think he would be great in Chatterley. Or maybe a John Porter type role without the guns and violence. He was certainly studly enough to be a romantic action hero. Kissing, check, smiling, check, shirtless, double check. I though he was beautiful in that series and I am not referring to his acting, which was spot on,as usual.

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  11. Thanks for this, Guylty. I, too, want to smile back, as if we’ve just measured the space and decided on the design for a DIY project. Oh, how these *ooof*s feed my fantasies.

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    • Glad to be of service with my *ooof*s, Leigh πŸ™‚ It’s fun to take a deeper look. And to feel how the viewing of a picture can actually lift up your spirits, or amplify an already good mood into something ecstatic. I find it inspiring to look at RA. There are so many different feelings connected with him (in my mind) that I can always pick one to suit any of my moods. An Armitage for all occasions. Yeah.

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  12. Thank you Richard and everyone for the gorgeous photo. One question……..how does he manage to sit like that without raising his heels??

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    • Hey MoonRAker – good point. Now that I have looked at the high-res version, I can see that there is practically no ledge at all. I think he balances by pressing his back against the wall. – Doesn’t look like a comfortable pose to me at all, I must say. I am surprised he is able to smile! I’d be grimacing.

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      • He must have a fantastic osteopath, and then there’s the yoga…

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      • his weight is being shifted forward as he rests his forearms on his bent legs. not an uncomfortable position at all, because the weight is balanced out in the middle when the arms meet the legs. (I’ve sat on my share of gritty curbs *laughs*)

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        • Ah, I see. Probably not within my range of personal experience. I have a belly *ggg*.

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        • i.e., he has excellent stomach and back strength πŸ™‚

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          • back, yes, but most of the pressure is grounded by your feet, not your stomach. all I know is that it’s not an uncomfortable position for me to sit in *shrugs* I have long legs, though I’m skeptical that my back or stomach muscles would be considered “strong” *laughs*

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  13. I feel pampered this week, thank you for another *ooof* Guylty πŸ™‚
    I love Richard’s “smiling” photos.
    errr..*cough*..so, you’re saying that Ascroft knows how I will be gazing at him? ..it’s bit disturbing and hilarious at the same time πŸ˜€

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    • Hehehe, yeah… ah well, we are all the same, aren’t we, always concentrating on the most intriguing parts *coughs*. Seriously – look at the high res, Joanna. I mean, I felt slightly voyeuristic – and that coming from a photographer really means someting πŸ˜‰

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      • πŸ™‚
        Have a nice weekend!

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        • Thanks Joanna. Have just latched onto the free wi-fi on my train down South. Great, surfing while travelling.

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          • It’s called civilisation πŸ˜‰

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            • Hehe, Joanna. Just back from my long weekend. (First look back here on me+r…) And I have to say, civilisation seemed to end when I disembarked the train. Mobile phone coverage in the most touristy part of Ireland – a beautiful spot called Killarney (incidentally where Michael Fassbender is from) – was flaky, and did not extend to the internet. I saw lots of comments coming in on this post but could not reply. The frustration!!! Glad to be back in proper civilisation now πŸ™‚

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  14. OT: Ladies, I hope you continue the discussion here in the comments. I am off-comms for a bit today as I am travelling into the wild Southeast of my beautiful host country. Family weekend, actually. I have heard whispers of “free WiFi on train” – ooooh, then I could actually continue discussing this with you. If you don’t hear from me, it’s not because I am bored but because I am out of coverage πŸ˜‰

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  15. Ok, I said this at C19 as well but here goes…..What is Robert Ascroft doing?! Does he have some master plan in place wherein he slowly mesmerizes the fan-ridden planet by releasing these photos in trickling doses?
    We are all now bowing down at the Ascroft shrine of loveliness. What does he want us to do? I think he could probably get us to enact some plan of world domination if he would only promise more photos….

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    • Hahaha, Trudy, well said. Ascroft is evil πŸ˜‰
      To tell you the truth, though, I wouldn’t even be too sure that Ascroft is responsible for the torturous release. It could be RA’s management. It kind of serves RA better than Ascroft, I think, because RA pops up in Social Media and on his fan sites every week, keeping the discussion going. Personally, as a photographer, I would want to show off my shoot in one fell swoop, not a trickling drip. But there’s no telling here who is the mastermind behind this… Keeping us guessing. Again. International man of mystery πŸ˜‰

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      • I agree — I don’t see what this ‘gets” Ascroft (other than a solid stream of high level arts criticism coming from Guylty πŸ™‚ ). What it gets Armitage is a constant sweel of *ooof* spreading across the Internet. If you’re Armitage’s publicist — or let’s say, you’re trying to push for him to get a romantic / sexy (as opposed to action hero / fantasy) role, in essence you’re proving that this button can be pushed over and over again to good effect and you have buzz / things you can point to.

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      • the other thing that occurs to me that’s different about this — in my experience in the past we’ve usually gotten one / two photos in the media, then a dump of the other photos from the same shoot all in one group, with maybe a strey one or two to follow. This is a really regular stream — definitely a “drip.”

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  16. I think it’s his mother. πŸ˜‰
    No, I’d love to know the marketing/posturing ploy behind all this. Someone is doing this on purpose. To what end?
    I don’t think there’s any question he can pull heartstrings. Do they want verifiable numbers on this, solid data on his swoon power?
    He’ll likely shoot through the stratosphere in sex god status if they ever cast him as the lead in some romantic movie role.

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  17. As usual, nailed it! Brilliant analysis. And this one’s a real *ooof*

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  18. What a great way to begin a Friday πŸ˜€ I woke up this morning after having not so great news yesterday at work, and this greets me! I loved your analysis as usual (although I still haven’t had the time to read the last one) and it brought me a smile to my lips. RA smiling always gets that reaction from me a big goody smile πŸ˜› And as you mention it’s so rare to see him smile in photo-shoots… So thank you for this wonderful post that brightened up my day and got me with the brightest smile when I walked in at work, making it easier digesting the not so good news of yesterday.

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    • Ah, Crism, glad to hear you felt your spirits lifted up by the photo and the post. As I have said once before – I do really hope that RA has (at least a faint) idea of his influence, however intangible it may seem. I mean, I am kind of latching on to his reach here, but it already makes me *quite* happy to read your lovely comments and to know that maybe someone’s spirits were lifted by *my* irrelevant musings! Hope your weekend got better after the disappointments of Friday morning!

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      • πŸ˜€ Believe me Guylty it did make a difference seeing that picture, that smile and reading your thoughts on it, in the bus on my way to work. I was needing something to lift my spirits and get my head out of the problems from work and it was just what I needed :)) Like you, I do hope that RA has an idea how he can really influence people, but I would think that he doesn’t really believe he has such a power πŸ˜› (I could just imagine his cheeks going all pink if someone told him such a thing, lol, or probably someone already has?)

        As it is I can only thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts with us. My weekend was much better and brighter with that smile in my mind and your words :)))

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  19. So true. (Anyone else read “The Seville Communion”?)

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    • This was meant to be in reply to Servetus’ remark about not underestimating a lady with a computer and an internet connection.

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  20. Drat. Unless Mrs. Armitage has Russian connections…
    Ali from RichardArnitageNet says these images are being acquired by the Russian RA site. Presumably, someone is buying these photos. Ashcroft wouldn’t be releasing them, but selling them. Makes sense to me. Wonder if the fans are buying them as a collective effort. ??

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  21. Upon first sight, my instant reaction was being puzzled and confused from this pic and it unsettled me to the core, that a seemingly complete different person was looking at me. Weird, as I haven’t had experienced anything like that before with any of Ascroft’s other photos. This pic left me almost disoriented. I pondered the last 2 days, whether I should write about my impression, as anybody else seemed to be so enthusiastic about it. Meanwhile I have looked again (and again), which wasn’t as plain as it maybe sounds, as I shied away a bit to examine it. Then I could even look really closer, as the pic suddenly enlarged conveniently(!). Most of all I have to state that I love a smiling and heartily laughing Richard! I consider him being someone who loves to do so! I can be quite a cheerful person too! As a result, finally I’ve got more familiar with his mien here. Still my gut feeling remained for quite a while as it initially has been. This brings me to your thoughts, which you were talking about further up in the comments, about whether his smile is real or fake, and about the whole real-ness of him in shoots like this, and how much it depends on our own mood how we embrace a particular picture. Still, I can’t put my finger on what has bewildered me so profoundly, but it implies that for me there is something really wrong and irritating. Does he actually feel uncomfortable? This feeling gets more and more blurred the more often you look at the subject and the increasing toughts of me and the impressions of others concealed my initial effect, which I know was perfectly justified. But why does he appear (to me) to be a complete stranger (which he anyway is, but this has never occured to me so strongly before). Yet, I have made my peace with this particular smiling man, leaving a couple of uncertainties…… I don’t assume I see any privacy of him here….
    Hope this makes any sense at all…… or maybe I’m talking a lot of rubbish as I’m presumably blinded by handsomeness… (It’s not happening the first time!)
    BTW S. (Ms Quick-as-a flash), you know I love what you do and write!

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    • I’m not sure I can articulate it any better, Linda, but for whatever reason – this isn’t a favorite of mine, either. Maybe it’s that he looks, to me, straight from the cast of Grease or his awkward sitting position. I love to see him happy, but this probably isn’t a genuine moment, just a staged smile. My favorite smiles have been some of the ones caught on red carpet signings.

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      • Thanks Trudy for your prompt reply. I was a little unsure about my writing and my feelings. β€žGreaseβ€œ oh my, I’m definitely not into musicals and I’ve seen only a short trailer of this film over the years. Nevertheless I have to admit, seing RA dancing on stage or in a film I’d have a real weakness for…. But when it comes to this man anyway everything is absolutely different!!
        Oh yeah, there are lovely candids of his various β€žRed carpetsβ€œ which I adore……

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      • Well, the song he remembered from his childhood and asked to be played for a radio interview was “Summer Nights” from _Grease”. πŸ™‚

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        • I actually have a little weakness for Grease – but I have to agree, the jeans-and-t-shirt look is a little bit “Danny” from Grease. The longer I think about it, the more I like the idea of RA playing Danny in a Grease re-do. Trouble is: He *definitely* is too old for that… But maybe they could do a sequel-Grease – sort of “20 years after” – so what has become of Danny Zuko and Sandy Olson? They meet again at their high-school reunion because initially the teenage relationship broke up when Sandy went to college. Danny was not a college-going type, but despite appearances he actually made it big. He started out as a car mechanic but then quickly progressed through the ranks and now is MD of a car manufacturer. No more greasy paws for Danny, but sleek suits and a string of high-maintenance but ultimately unsatisfying superficial girlfriends… Sandy, on the other hand, got married to her college sweetheart, had two children in quick succession and was not able to sustain a career. Now that the children have flown the nest, her marriage has broken up and she is at the start of re-igniting her own career. That’s when she meets Danny again…
          (Sorry, totally getting carried away here – not particularly original. I better leave the fiction to you fanfic experts!)

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          • I think it’s the tennis shoes that wrinkle my nose. I’m not a fashionista by far, and the look is just too ‘young kid cool’ for Richard, IMO. Would he really choose those on his own? Not sure. And not sure why I think I know him and his choices! I just don’t like the sneaks on him. Period. Didn’t like it really at the Japan premiere thing either. I guess I’m thinking he’s too mature for that. πŸ˜›

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            • Ha! Spot on. I am not a fan of the sneakers, either. And really didn’t like the ones in Japan, too. But hey – glad there are still a few “fails”. If everything was perfect, it would bore me. (On the subject of sneakers I have to concede, however, that I am a huge fan of my less-than-age-appropriate converse. I am a couple of years older than Mr A, and my converse are ankle high and with little lady-bugs on them. Talk about someone not happy about her age *hahaha*)

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    • First of all: Please never shy away from disagreeing, G.!!!! I think that disagreements very often propel the discussion forward because it means we have to check our opinion again. But I do understand how you might not be keen on examining a picture that you find unsettling… Anyway, I think you are raising a very interesting point here, though – the fact that familiarity blurs the initial response. I could very easily suffer from that because I look at these pics for so long in prep for my analysis. I often start out thinking “what a glum look” and the more I examine the image, the friendlier the expression becomes. Surely a reflection on that growing familiarity and my own inclination to interpret him as a light-hearted person… Dein Lob macht mir große Freude! Danke G!

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  22. […] The pose is relaxed and realistic. Armitage is balancing his pert arse on the edge of an armchair, leaning slightly forward. His long limbs are arranged openly, but are demurely shielded behind his arms and hands. Shooting from eye-level, the photographer must be kneeling in front of him… and who wouldn’t… In fact, the whole pose reminds me of a number of other shots of Armitage that have been taken by a variety of photographers (click, click, click). […]

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  23. […] Armitage sit on the concrete floor and on a shabby chic armchair, he placed the casually dressed Armitage in front of a wall with peeling paint in various poses, he had him perch in front of a window, and he took him […]

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  24. […] with a classic and classy approach. ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof […]

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