*ooof*: Smug Armitage at a Party

Hello! I am back in the fold, at last and gladly, but strangely also “with reluctance”. That is no reflection on this lovely community. Quite the contrary, there is nothing better than fangirling in a medium-sized horde. I’d meet up with any of you at the drop of a hat (and I did during my hols – a big hug to the wonderful Linda60!). Heck, I’d go on group therapy with you any day, ladies, as I’ve said before. But sometimes Armitage gets a bit too close for comfort I let Armitage get to me, and I need to step back. The enforced distance due to connectivity issues was partly self-induced but did *not quite* work as well as I thought. Maybe I should’ve left the “prospective *ooof* prints” at home… But in a way I was half-glad to have missed the immediacy of the Wellington wrap-up reports. As a sentimental at heart, I would’ve been disconsolate, had I been online the way I usually am, following the twitter pictures and live-blogging attempts. I am bad at good-byes, and observing Mr A and his Hobbit mates winding down the filming of the trilogy would’ve broken my heart.

It is strange then, that I have a new current favourite image. For the first time ever I am deeply fascinated with a candid. No redeeming compositorially brilliance, excellent lighting or sexy styling. A picture that is marred by a busy, ugly background, camera shake and grainyness caused by an automatically set high ISO, and – oh blasphemy – has more than just the one subject in it. And yet it is a picture that stirs. Not as far down as they usually stir me, but higher up, and towards the left. The heart is touched by the joyous expression of Mr A in this candid, finally frollicking with his colleagues and friends, celebrating, toasting the end of an era, letting go after weeks and months of concentration and hard work. He looks exhausted and exalted at the same time, the hair ruffled, the skin shiny. The grin is not carefully posed, it seems genuinely happy. There is no thought behind the twinkling eyes that extends further than the moment, than the pure enjoyment of this instant of closeness with friends. No studio portrait can ever create that, however talented an actor the model might be. This was real, and for that reason, it is more affecting and effective than any other picture I have seen of him before. I hope, Mr A, that you are as happy even now, days afterwards, and not morosely hankering.

This intro sounds more like an epilogue. If that candid is the “ultimatest” shot of RA, is there any point in going on with *ooof*? Don’t fear, dear readers. I am fickle. I am superficial. My attention span is short. No sooner have I been touched by the real-ness of the final candid, that I need to quell my thirst for aesthetic beauty by revisiting older images. And so I turn to RARA again, my trusty travel companions, which I showed you in my last *ooof*. And to link to that, let’s stay with the blue theme that featured in the blue eyes of the previous analysis. The eyes don’t really pop in this one – but my ovaries do!

RobertAscroft-08Armitage as smug man at a party? Portrait by Robert Ascroft. Source.

Photography very often is about playing with contradictions. It’s about dark vs light, or colour vs monochrome or hard vs soft. Upon first sight, this shot by Robert Ascroft does not seem to be contradictory at all. And yet, this shot that I have christened “blue steel” on account of the steel door with the blue hue, is a contradiction in itself. If you remember my little excursion into colour interpretation, blue is meant to be a calming colour. This shot is meant to be cool and calming and yet – this is really hot! On account of the sitter, of course, who is doing his best to set the viewer alight with his smouldering glower.

Contradictions often appear like a breaking of rules. But rule-breaking is needed *anywhere*, photography or not, to push the boundaries and to create new things, new styles, new genres. Ascroft here, for instance, breaks a rule that says that it makes more sense to shoot a dark(ly dressed) subject against a light background. He places the dark-suited RA against grey-blue steel that only appears bright where the light hits it full-on and otherwise looks dullish and dark. However, in order to make his subject stand out, Ascroft uses harsh lighting. This creates clear outlines where the light hits the subject, easily noticeable on Armitage’s right side, where the light from above front-left defines the subject’s head, shoulder and right arm with clear precision. Shadows in that set-up can be tricky. They not only distract but also extend the contours of the subject, obscuring where the subject ends and the shadow begins. (See Richard’s left.)

The composition of this image is particularly interesting. On first sight, the composition appears odd – the subject is placed off-centre. But not off-centre enough to create negative space, especially with the handle and lock of the steel door so plainly in view. An oversight? No, carefully planned cropped. There are six imaginary lines in the image. Can you find them?

Check the distances between the line of the door on the left to the edge of the image and of the imaginary line along Richard’s body (his left) to the right edge of the image. They are identical. Similarly, the distance between the horizon line where the door hits the floor to the bottom edge of the image, and the imaginary line along Richard’s shoulders to the top edge are equidistant. Two secondary lines along the top of the subject’s head and the tips of his shoes are also equidistant to the corresponding edges of the image. Even though the rule of thirds does not apply here, the image is composed in a way that is pleasing to the eye – and possibly a case in point when it comes to the breaking of rules that I mentioned earlier.

Talk about pleasing to the eye – so is also the pose. Armitage is standing, leaning casually against the steel door. The way he has his left hand in his trouser pocket and his legs crossed looks very fashion photography to me. It is hard to pin down. It may have to do with the fact that we have a full-length portrait here. In photographic portraiture, full-length images have become slightly rare. As humans, we tend to concentrate on the face/eyes of the sitter. Well, as humans of the female persuasion… Subsequently, a head-and-shoulders portrait suffices. It may also be the ubiquity of avatar images in today’s Social Media-fuelled world that we see relatively less full-length portraits. Even in terms of picture format, the avatar-typical square format may have had an impact on that – the square format is not conducive to showing an oblong human shape. My fashion photography association certainly has also got to do with the pose. Holding his hand in his pocket appears as a gesture of deliberate exposure of the trouser waist. Hugo Boss is calling. Moreover, there is the incongruous location which does not quite match the smart clothes. What does Mr. Sex-in-a-Suit do in a slaughterhouse? Especially with *that* look on his face? Head tilted down, dark smoulder. Well, maybe he has come to slaughter someone… The overall effect on me is that of a male model, a dressman.

The incongruity of this particular image has thrown up more questions to me than I have answers to. I find it immensely interesting that Ascroft interprets Armitage in this way. For all we know from our intense study of his interviews, the man Armitage does not really come across like this at all: slightly provocative, direct, smouldering, overly confident, assertive, smug, contemptuous, ready to pounce, ready to shout, ready to eat you up. This is so clearly an act, and a well-acted one by our master-actor, of course. But why? What for? *Who* for? *Is* this a facet of Mr A? An unseen one? Or simply fashion photography with an incidental and replaceable model in the frame?

And what about the facial expression that is strongly characterised by the under-brow tilt of the head. While the press call photography mostly shows a friendly, cooperative, benignly-pleasant, amicable man, the studio portraiture all too often veers towards more heated, sexy interpretations of strongly dominant masculinity. Normally, people put on a smile for a photograph, but the under-brow tilt constricts the view both of sitter and of viewer, it communicates guardedness, aggression and defensiveness. Is Armitage less good at portraits where he has to look at the camera? Is the forward-tilted head a gesture of self-consciousness or a case of “attack is the best self-defense”? Or is it a reflection on the photographer? There are plenty of images by other photographers with RA dead-pan and he pulls an amiable face. Can we assume then, that Ascroft gave the instruction to smoulder? Or was it a grumpy day for Mr A, and that shows in his mien?

If the measure of a good portrait photographer is his ability to represent and/or interpret a facet of his sitter, then what purpose has this shot got? Or, if Ascroft is not attempting to show a facet of his subject’s personality, then is this art? Why, I wonder, does RA become complicit in this sham? Does he enjoy playing the act? Does he wish he were like this for real? *Is* he like this, at 3 am in the morning, on a Sunday, in his basement? Maybe this is where the image was taken, and it is not a full-length portrait of the artist as a hot man but a full-length portrait of a steel door?

I jest. Of course not. No one has such large doors in the cellar. But I am back in the grip of the familiar intrigue. Why these sexy smoulder images? Who interprets Armitage? His agent, his photographer, his fans, he himself? How *does* he see himself? A question that is utterly fascinating to all of us because we deal with that on a daily basis in our own life, women especially. And to photographers in particular. Those are the questions I would ask him. And then I would lock him in my studio, with my camera, and let him shoot a self-portrait. Now, that would be telling!

EDIT: As a reaction to this photo and some of my musings/questions, Judiang has written a fantastic story about the photo shoot that resulted in this image. It accompanies the photo perfectly. Do yourself the favour and read HERE.

(NB: Interestingly, I did my research and notes for this *ooof* a couple of weeks ago. In the meantime, Servetus has started on her exploration of “gender trouble”. Inadvertantly, and without coordinating it, we seem to have launched into a similar theme at the same time.)

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

~ by Guylty on July 30, 2013.

85 Responses to “*ooof*: Smug Armitage at a Party”

  1. Thanks for you *ooof* and very intrigued by the path you and Servetus took… can’t wait next posts on this subject 😉

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    • I can’t wait for Servetus to push further with her Armitage gender studies. Gender ideas are just so prevalent in photography, I am certain I will learn lots from what she is going to explore…

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      • I always have thought you appeared on my horizon for a reason: because you are a good influence. I know I’ve been remiss in commenting due to life circumstances, but a couple of *ooof*s ago you said something about the downward glance of submission, something I’ve wanted to write about for years, and I just decided it’s time even if I can’t be as coherent as I’d like at the moment.

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  2. Images like this produce a visceral reaction in me; they remind me forcibly of my first husband, who was a dynamo housed in a typhoon wrapped in a tornado. But who also could be tender, thoughtful and gentle. I think RA, like all human beings, can encompass both ends of the extreme, and Ascroft seems to be very adept at capturing the darker aspects of RA (or his ability to ACT this way.)

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    • I suppose it is that contradiction that is so irresistable. Certainly one of the reasons why I have been obsessing about Sir Guy recently – the volatility of temper and the romantic tenderness in one man. Talk about gender characterisation again… While that is not what *all* women want, it certainly comes close to what I perceive masculinity to be. Well, minus the “heinous crimes”…
      The darker facets are of course even more fascinating than the easily readable ones. A good photographer will see them in his/her subject – sometimes to the sitter’s dismay (my own experience after having been photographed by a photographer friend who exposed something that I thought was well-hidden).

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  3. Smouldering and seductive if not predatory… 🙂

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  4. Welcome back, guylty! Missed you! I know exactly what you mean about needing to detach a little. And the end of filming was as excruciating as you imagine. I, too, love the last candid. When you see RA so natural and happy and not posing politely for the picture, you can really see the difference as opposed to the Ascroft shoot pictures, which are so carefully crafted to produce a particular effect. Like the blue steel *oof*. Which raises again the question of what the purpose of the shoot was. It almost doesn’t look like RA, except of course he captures your attention in a way that an ordinary model wouldn’t. You are drawn to look at his face, maybe because the suit and the background blend so that his face is like a little pool of color? Not one of my favorites. Thanks as always for the thoughtful *oof*! Glad you’re back! {{{hugs}}}

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    • xxx Marie 🙂 Thanks for the welcome. Glad I am not the only one to admit that sometimes it seems too much.
      All of the RARAs are characterised by a very deliberate and particular interpretation of RA, almost all of them rather “alpha male-ish” (sorry, Serv, using that term here 😉 ). The fact that they are specifically and professionally made for media consumption set them apart from a private candid like the Twitter shot. Even though that was probably also intended for Twitter (and thus the public) from the beginning, it is still much less concerned with image, beauty, aesthetics, publicity etc than a polished studio shoot.
      You are absolutely right about the face and skin taking up all the attention in this shot. They are the colours that really jump out against background and clothes, drawing the gaze. Very effective.

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      • I don’t mind “alpha male” as a shorthand for something fairly large — most people mean it primarily as an expression — my objection to it is when people say that that the term explains something or everything on its own.

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        • Yes, as a lazy writer I use it as a handy epithet which tends to be understood by most. Your explanation in your “gender trouble” post is spot-on, though – it is too easy to reduce human behaviour to categories invented for animal characterisation. There’s more to us than instinct.

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  5. This shot looks like a model shot with more artistic qualities. I have a weakness for the well-dressed Richard ( and the candid Richard and the T shirt Richard and…) You’re OOPHS really give me a new way to look at photos. Ishe holding something in his right hand? He seems to be fingering something.

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    • Yep, very fashion-oriented. And fashion photography nowadays has taken on a very artistic sheen. Gone are the days of simple “clothes-hangers”. It’s no surprise that a lot of artsy photographers actually started out as fashion photographers. The two areas are mixing nowadays.
      As for his hand – no, I don’t think he’s holding anything. It’s the shadow of the hand on the wall behind him that makes it look so.
      I’m glad you find the *ooof*s enlightening – we all see different things, of course, but there is a way of “reading” an image that tells you more than just the pictured facts…

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  6. Like marieastra8, I also wonder what this photoshoot was for- am I right in remembering only seeing two of all the RaRa shots used in print media? Would the shoot have been commissioned by RA purely for random, unspecified media demands, ie to accompany possible future newspaper/magazine articles? If so, is this RA and his agent trying to cultivate a certain image, rather than say a photoshoot set up by a magazine to conform to their own style requirements?
    Or alternately, do actors do photoshoots now and then simply as a way of getting new shots out to the fans, to feed our voracious appetite for fresh images of our man?
    As for the candid- love,love,love all that it represents.

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    • I’m not really sure how many RARAs actually saw the light of publication. I have been wondering about their use in various posts before, but we can only speculate. When it comes to a shoot like this, involving a well-established photographer and a reasonably well-known actor, it could be instigated by either side. The photographer wants to shoot a celebrity and sell the images. The sitter needs good images to get in to the media. However, I find it more likely that Armitage’s publicist would have approached Ascroft about the possibility of a shoot. As to who would pay whom – I very much doubt that Ascroft would shoot for free. I assume that the shoot was booked by Armitage’s publicist. She (?) gets the resulting images for her own use (*ahem* that sounds wrong, but you know what I mean). The image rights remain with Ascroft, too, who can sell them on and make money with them. It’s in both their interests – Ascroft for earning through copyright, and Armitage through getting exposure.

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      • Thanks for the detailed reply, Guylty. It’s funny, I hadn’t even considered that Ascroft might’ve approached RA to be his sitter, but as you say, it’s perhaps more likely the other way around (RA maybe not well known enough in the US for Ascroft to seek him out?). In this scenario, where do the clothes come from- RA’s own wardrobe? Would there be prior discussion as to formal or casual styling and the overall tone of the shoot- sorry, so many questions!

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        • Good question, Katharine. On a fashion shoot, the stylist is organised either by the photographer or by the magazine that has asked the photographer for the shoot. This isn’t a fashion shoot, and we know from the re-appearance of the military style Burberry coat that some of the clothes must be Armitage’s. I’m pretty sure they would not have left the styling to Armitage or Ascroft. There must have been a stylist present. A shoot is far too expensive to overlook styling. Ilaria Urbinati? In any case, the organiser of the shoot would’ve also employed a stylist.
          In the run-up to the shoot, the client would’ve given a brief to the photographer: number of expected images, preferred style, number of (clothes) changes, purpose of images, look and feel, message. That kind of thing gets discussed previous to the actual shoot. If the photographer was booked specifically for his/her style, then the client is obviously familiar with it and wants something that they have seen in his/her portfolio beforehand. Otherwise, client and photographer call upon examples from other photographers and discuss what they want from the shoot. Who calls the shots, literally, is determined by whoever pays for it. (Unless the client gives free reign to the photographer, anyway.)

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  7. Thanks for another great analysis. This may be controversial, but as much as I like the thought of a happy Richard, from a purely (personal) aesthetic point of view, I think a serious look suits his features better. I can see why a photographer might encourage this type of look or why over the years, Richard himself may have opted for this look. Even he says he thinks he has a “mean” face, and although I disagree with “mean”, I don’t think a broadly smiling look is his most superficially attractive. (The smile does convey messages that I definitely find emotionally attractive, but that’s not what I find most attractive from a “physical beauty only” standpoint.) This might account for why Harry in VOD never really does it for me. Now, that slight hint of smile he tends to give at times does work IMHO. It’s one of the reasons I find Lucas and Porter so sexy. Wow, I can’t believe I’m being this superficial–LOL!! I’ll be back to my regular programming momentarily…

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    • That is a thought that flicked through my mind as well, Northern Gal, when I looked at the grinny images. The wide grin, although communicating real happiness, is not as superficially beautiful, but more attractive for its associations than its aesthetics. I am wondering whether RA was cruelly told by some sh*t at some point in his life (not even just his public career) that “a wide smile made him look silly” because it is very, very rarely seen on him. He keeps his mouth shut most of the time, or only drags the corners of his mouth up very little. Or maybe he has practiced in front of the mirror and consciously decided on a particular “photo smile”. (Nothing silly about that – I have done that myself, and I would encourage everyone to do so. Find the look that you think suits you best. It is one way of controlling the images that are being taken of oneself…)
      I like the tight-lipped semi-smile, too. It certainly works very well with his face, although I agree that he does not have an evil countenance at all. A little more joy in his eyes would give him a more cheerful look, but it is hard to smile with the eyes, genuinely and convincingly. And that is not superficial at all, NG.

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      • Am I the only one who unconditionally love Harry Jasper Kennedy and his big smile?
        I tend to agree with Guylty about someone telling some sh*t to RA on some of his physical features. A shool mate told he was really similar to Harry and we know that RA is not comfortable in acting as “himself”. I’m sure he always tries to be someone other, as a defence or because of extreme shyness, I don’t know. He always tries to control himself, especially on the Red Carpet (closed fists do mean something IMO). You can actually perceive how he tries to be “right” for the context, feeling he cannot simply be himself. At least, this is what I feel. It’s my reading of course, and I can be very wrong. After all I “know” him since a few months, I’m not an expert 😉 but I have this feeling. In those 2 last twitter candids we have a happy, drunk, free from duty RA celebrating with his close friends. A rare glimpse in his private self. Those two pics are precious, a real treasure and I thank Jed and Graham for posting them. And I’m happy RA permitted them to do so. In other occasions he didn’t wanted to be pictured, as Jed told us in a tweet. He should have been very happy and… yes, drunk! 😀 Have I said that I love thos pics yet?

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        • Don’t worry, you’re not the only one….

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          • I’ve always believed I’m in the distinct minority where Harry is concerned. He’s not my favorite character and I don’t find him the handsomest (it might be the haircut more than anything, really), but even I must admit that from a personality standpoint, he would be a better choice out of the RA characters than most to have a conversation over a beer with–no worrying about being stabbed (Guy), spied upon (Lucas and possibly Porter), duped (John Mulligan, Percy Courtney, Paul Andrews and Lee–wow has he played a lot of cads!). I certainly hope no one ever criticized his smile to the extent suggested here–how awful! My hubby is not a naturally “smiley” person so perhaps I have a built in bias?

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        • Big, genuine smiles are always gorgeous. On anyone. Unconditionally. Because they speak of inner beauty, I suppose. I think they work through the associations, though, whereas outward beauty is less layered and rather superficial. (But can elicit strong responses, too.) Harry Kennedy is a double-whammy in that respect. I actually think that he is quite beautiful with his wide smiles in VoD. So whoever possibly traumatised RA into his guarded smiling should be severly kicked up the arse!
          The candids are precious because they appear so unguarded and genuine. Did RA ask to be left out of pictures? I did not know that. Awww.

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          • there’s also the teeth issue. It’s a bit hard to say because the advent of the shiny new teeth came shortly after Armitage began being photographed more often, but the early photos that precede 2005 when the dental work began mostly aren’t smiling iirc. (of course, there are also fewer of them).

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            • Dang. You are killing me. I hate the thought of dental falseness and had happily ignored the possibility of dental reconstruction in Mr Armitage’s lush mouth. Hmph. But yeah, the pearly whites are just a little bit too pearly and white to be real. (As a punishment for my naivety I now feel the urge to google and compare.)

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              • yeah, sorry about that, but what we see are definitely not the surfaces of his own teeth. (Americans are teeth-obsessed, but his teeth now look better than the teeth of most Americans.)

                here was a comment by a dentist (in a comments strand that was heavily occupied with teeth discussion): http://armitagefanblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/plug-for-fave-impressionists.html?showComment=1269231092574#c1189685566388054583

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                • Gosh – i am so naive. I would never have noticed! :0

                  Having been raised in the UK at a similar time to Armitage, i can confirm that visits to the orthodontist were rare – only those with hideous teeth got a look in. So it is likely that RA had less than perfect teeth at the beginning of his career.

                  Having said that, my teeth have improved vastly in the last ten years and i swear i have done nothing more than visit the dentist annually, floss daily and use a whitening toothpaste to counteract all the red wine and black tea. I used to have gaps but as i have aged the gaps have closed and the teeth have cooperatively lined up neatly. Some things do improve with age 😉

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                  • Do you remember RA message about him being Brad Pitt in real life? And nose and teeth of Thornton being prosthetic for the character? 😛 It’s clear he had some problem with his teeth and he decided to solve it. I noticed it some time ago and searched for evidence on when he took action. I suppose he used N&S earned money 😉 Thank G*d he resisted in doing a nose job 😀

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                • What the hell was wrong with his teeth? Nothing. Not at all bad-looking. And I seriously have seen worse (Ireland is a bit of a hell-pit when it comes to teeth…). The drive for perfection in the dental department probably comes with the business. Thanks for the link, Serv.

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                  • First of all, thank you guilty, for your extraordinary *ooof* as always. You know, growing up in the 70`s and 80`s in Germany orthodontia was usual. I´m not sure myown resultate was best, but I was so greatful, that my elder daughter, born in the 80´s with a “cheilognathouranoschisis” (Lippen-Kiefer-Gaumenspalte) got the best medical treatment that was available. Now it´s the other way round: social medicine system´s going to down, you´ve to pay for everything, future generations´s teeth will look like as before world war 2. Hoping, not loosing the thread totally: I like RA´s “new” teeth, knew that there were some “improvements” between N&S and RH or otherwise in the timeline. Now it´s getting a bit disgusting, my younger daughter is a “Zahnmedizinische Fachangestellte” (qualified dental employee ?) and explained me explicit what was possibly done with RA´s teeth (servetus posted a brilliant link according to this theme). I can tell you, I will never see my dentist with the same eyes as before…

                    BTW, I´ve learned a lot of your *ooofs*, in one of the older ones you gave some tipps for bad photographers like me, and it worked really fine, when my elder daugter and me had a trip to London last week. Believe it or not, it was 2° hotter than in *f…* old Germany 🙂

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                    • (Damn it, a whole long reply just got lost here 😦 ). Thanks for commenting, Ute! Don’t get me wrong – I am grateful for orthodontistry (?). Over here in Ireland we have to pay for that all out of our own pockets, but I can tell you that every penny of the 5000 Euro I spent on my son’s braces and accompanying treatment was worth it. I think what I am taking issue with is making something look better that already looks alright. And well, it never occurred to me that his teeth looked bad – but then I am not very familiar with his dental state pre-2005 :-D. I am intrigued though, by what you mean by “I will never see my dentist with the same eyes as before…”
                      Really glad to hear that my practical asides in the *ooof*s were of any help to you. Did you have a good time in London? What did you do and see?

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          • Don’t kill me, but sometimes he looks a little goofy when he offers a broad smile.

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            • After all, doesn’t that somehow bring relief to see, that even he can look as normal/goofy in a pic as we all sometimes do, when we get cought in an unfavourable move, or on the numerous snapshots that (unfortunately often) turn out sooo badly? Mmmhhhh…. Love him smiling!!!

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              • Touchée, Linda! Armitage is a mere mortal. It’s nice to be reminded of that. The man is a geek, at times, and a goof. Human. Despite his handsomeness.

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            • From a personal interaction standpoint, a genuine smile is always gorgeous, but based purely on “how are the features of this person best exhibited for maximum beauty for posterity” (as one does for a photo shoot), I think for most of us, a broad smile does not lend itself to classic beauty. Have you ever noticed how often models do not smile? How often do the great portraits throughout the centuries show a broad smile? Not very. For even the most beautiful humans, a broad smile can pull the muscles in a face into an unflattering arrangement–puffed up cheeks, nearly closed eyes, protruding nose. When you think about it, a genuine broad smile is momentary–candid photos capture that moment of brilliance and joy as a testment to that moment. A broad smile in a portrait or professional photoshoot can be a misstep–there is no “happy context” to which it connects. DaVinci got it right with Mona Lisa’s demure hint of a smile.

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          • An italian fan asked Jed if they hang out with Richard too, since there were non sign of him on twitter pics the dwarves were posteing (rude question, if you ask me). Jed answered that of course they hang out with Richard, the best of man, but that he want his privacy protected and they obliged. As you all should do, Jed added. Good answer Jed, you are a great friend 😉

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  8. That adds a dimension to the question Guylty posed earlier: what was intended by this shot and the others,and by whom? And I imagine who ever drove it also was in charge of the stylist. There are a variety of “looks” in the Ascroft shoot.

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    • Yep – as I said previously, I’d be majorly surprised if there was no stylist present. Not only for the choice of clothes, but you also need a stylist on set for a pair of eyes that spots stains or creases and who knows how to wear the gear properly. Stylists prepare the clothes (iron etc.), match them into a look and help with the dressing as well as checking that everything will look good on camera.
      It’s possible that Armitage was told to bring in a selection of his clothes – jeans, white tee, formal wear, different colour shirts, jackets, shoes – and the stylist then set about coordinating different outfits for the shoot. And she/he possibly also had a few items with her/him just in case.

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  9. http://www.jagrant.com/watcher/ -Judiang was inspired by Guylty on Me, My Thoughts and Richard Armitage. A charming written sketch.

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  10. “What does Mr. Sex-in-a-Suit do in a slaughterhouse? Especially with *that* look on his face?” – You’re right: These are the central questions concerning this photo! Welcome back, guylty, after some hopefully recreative (and not too hot?) Holidays! Actually this is one of my favourite RARAs :-). Hasn’t he chosen a similar one as his recent official autograph? (I think it’s the half length portrait with the same suit.)
    It is very interesting to read all of your thoughts concerning this photo and the whole photoshot.

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    • Yes, you can always count on me, Nell, to relentlessly put my fingers into the searing wounds and central themes of modern art. Someone has to ask these questions. (I hope my infantile questioning has not taken away from your enjoyment of this magnificent image.)
      The holidays were hot, you bet. 39 degrees in Germany. I loved it. But I am equally happy to be back in a more moderately climed country 😉
      I have no idea what his current autograph photo looks like – anyone have a recent one? I received an autograph last week, too, but it was a picture I had chosen myself. (He wrote my name!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *squee* And spelled it correctly!!!!!!! *snorts* With his own hand!!!!!!! *scream* He touched the picture that I now hold *faints* – *shesaysindeepirony*)

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      • How lucky are you!!!??? Did you write to NZ? I received a pre-signed one several weeks ago sent from UK and as many others posted the same photo this one must be his “official” autograph: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/2012Promo/album/thumbs/RobertAscroft-11.jpg
        At least he signed the photo himself, with his own hands … *sigh* *faint* ….
        Btw: we had 38 degrees – and I was in France where it was quite the same … What a summer!

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        • Nah, it was done for me. My tumblr friend Sketchlavie sent a request for a number of people. We waited for a whole long year 😀 I am otherwise far too proud to write to Armitage *haha*.
          Great summer, I agree. And boy, did I need that after the drawn-out long winter in Ireland and a frankly more than disappointing summer holiday in the South of France last year with an average temperature of 20 degrees. It was positively chilling. Glad to see that you were luckier this year.

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  11. “Mr Sex-in-a-Suit in a slaughterhouse …” Is that haughty glare and stubborn stance intended to stop us from opening the hefty steel door and seeing what lurks behind? Oh my, I feel a fanfic coming on, possibly with Bluebeard’s Castle undertones!
    Yay, Guylty, it is good to have you back. I hope you had a good rest, whether that means a break from intrusive thoughts of RA or unbridled indulgence in visions of Armitagean splendour. As for me, it is not often that I am awake at 4.30 on a Melbourne morning, but I’m loving the privacy in which to enjoy the *ooof*, must do it more often … and perhaps for once I will not be the last person to comment on a post!

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    • LOL – oh groovergreen, what a wonderfully funny reply. You have set the wheels of my imagination turning now, too – what lurks behind? Well, the carcasses of thousands of women, all seared to death by that steely-cold, yet scorching-hot smoulder. Once the photographer and his lackays are gone, he will turn around, cacklingly unlocking the door to his cooling chamber, surveying the carnage with glee. Oooops, that scenario was meant for the Hannibal fandom. – Seriously, though – pleeeeease let me know if a fanfic gets born out of this image. I’d love to know where *your* imagination takes you.
      ” intrusive thoughts of RA or unbridled indulgence in visions of Armitagean splendour” – I love how you put that. Yes. Visions of Armitagean splendour is mostly what I suffer from. Curse the ubiquity of the internet. Can never escape. (So glad I am back, though. Fickle woman that I am.)
      Oh, and first or last to comment – I appreciate any thought that is uttered here in the comment section. You make my day! xx

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      • OK, Guylty, you’re on. I have a mostly work-free Thursday so will have a crack at a suitably bloodthirsty and/or heart-rending fanfic starring our beauitful man. 🙂

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  12. just like a director would tell you “give me more anger” or “less smile, more smoulder” that is what I imagine a photographer doing; am I completely off base in that assumption?

    also, would a publicist be so specific in what kinds of shots that they wanted: smouldering vs. vulnerable, or would it be more along the lines of classic vs. casual, profile vs. straight-on, etc.

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    • Yes, a good photographer gives you proper direction both for the pose and for the facial expression. Or has pictures to show the sitter what he expects to see. Possibly even acts the pose/expression he expects to see. Professional models, on the other hand, are expected to “offer” looks and poses on their own. There is an ability to preempt the photographers wishes expected, too.
      As for the client – they usually have a pretty clear idea what they want and discuss that with the photographer prior to the shoot. They also often sit in on a shoot and comment as the pictures are being produced. Modern technology (tethered shooting with simultaneous transmission onto the client’s iPad) has made the whole process much less intrusive and quicker. How specific they are probably depends on their own ability to visualise or whether they have a clear idea what the images are supposed to convey. Both the style (” classic vs. casual, profile vs. straight-on”) as well as the message (“smouldering vs. vulnerable”) can be decided on prior to the shoot and given to the photographer as part of the brief.

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  13. Glad to hear you’re back! The candid and this pic are some of my fave pics. The parts you pointed out about positioning and spatial aspects of the photo are fascinating. I know when I see a great pic, but can’t take a decent pic to save my life. Hmmm, feeling a backstory coming on about that candid shot…

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    • Thanks Judiang! And yaaaaaaaaay – a backstory to the candid???? Yessssss, please!!!!!!!! Can’t wait. (And don’t worry about not being able to take a picture – you can write. Brilliantly. I think that more than balances out the lack of photography-skill!)
      *ooooooh, this is fun*

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  14. Reblogged this on Armitage Agonistes and commented:
    In case you missed it, Judiang wrote a wonderful sketch about what was going on in the subject’s mmid during the shoot for the photo Guylty discusses. Not to be missed http://www.jagrant.com/watcher/portraiture/
    And Vote AGAIN for Armitage. http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2013/07/vote-in-the-anglo-fan-favorites-tournament-men-of-2013-round-1/2/

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  15. Thanks Guylty, yesss… it was a sheer delight meeting you again, having such a great time indulging in all the urgent and vital (!!) topics that needed to be talked, or should I say, ventilated about….. 😀
    Today’s ooof is actually one of my favourite shot’s of the Ascroft series. I still can’t say why it so strongly appeals to me, but thankfully you have a lot of inspiring ideas, and you conjure several answers to all the questions that are unavoidably thrown up, when we are looking at this specific picture. Yeah, it’s one of this opposing shots (unlike how I would describe Mr. A. personally/privately) where he supposedly plays an act (nice story, judiang!), but for me he also exudes this sleek stance of a dancer or a person who is at least confident in his body (and makes me hope and dream that one day there will be a film, where we can see more sort of like dance moves of him… )
    All this is highly enlightening and interesting! Ich bin begeistert!

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    • It was lovely seeing you, Linda, and having ample time to delve deeply into our favourite topic 🙂 I suspect we could have gone on for even longer…
      You make a good point about the body confidence. As someone who is most of the time lacking this, I feel very much drawn to anyone who exudes that kind of confidence. Admiration? Possibly envy! I am not that big into dancers (sometimes the sleekness of their moves look too artificial for my taste), but I’d love to see RA dance, just in a scene where his character takes a woman dancing.
      I am glad my choice of picture meets your approval. Consider the *ooof* dedicated to you 😉 xxx

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  16. Thank you for another interesting ooof, Guylty, and welcome back!

    I love this photo although it slightly bothers me that he isn’t wearing a belt as i have a bit of a thing for belts, but someone has pointed out to me that it is a style that doesn’t have belt loops so he didn’t just forget to put one on – or not own one, like my clients who have a charity shop suit just for court appearances 😉 If GoG was alive today, this would be what he looked like – a corporate psychopath in an expensive suit, who wasn’t above taking people into the strong room for a bit of a chat.

    I like your theory that the RARA photo’s were taken for use in publicity. Frustratingly, RA is still not a name everyone seems to recognise – often when i mention him, i am greeted with blank looks until i start running down his list of credits. It might be my cohort but it is GoG and Lucas people remember – a shot accompanying a print media article would have to show an RA familiar enough that someone flicking through the magazine would stop and look closer to see where they recognised him from. For me, this photo ticks that box.

    My personal favorite candid is the one taken at the Wellington premiere by the lady who has now sadly passed away. His smile is so broad and goes right to his eyes – he is stunning. I think it is also partly my favorite because of what it represents – she said he was smiling at us all and that sums up the generous spirit of this community. But there’s also no denying that he has a lovely smile. 🙂

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    • “Corporate psychopath” – chillingly descriptive. I am struggling with my Guy love at the best of time (why am I so attracted to a character who displays such cruelty, heartlessness and violence – am I a masochist??? One shudders…), but your suggestion that this could be Guy in the present is so accurate. It’s the dark look in his eyes and of course the dark look of his style. Here’s another opportunity for a bit of fanfic!
      I like your theory that the dark smoulders are a deliberate decision by his PR people because it can be more easily associated with the dark characters he has played. Sometimes I think he is almost too good an actor – people don’t recognise his name when I talk about him, but when I mention some of the roles he has played, they eventually find one they are familiar with.
      I can’t remember the candid you are mentioning off the top of my head – although I know for certain that I must have seen it. I do like his smiles in the fan pics – they are not as wide as the grin in the Wellington wrap-up pics.
      Thanks for your comment, Bolly 🙂

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  17. Welcome back! I am glad that you had a great holiday. It is *ooof* day Tuesday, what a great day!

    This picture has me thinking of the freezer door at the high school kitchen, I work at a different kitchen and would try to get back there if RA was standing there at the door looking like that. The shy me would be loud just to make sure everyone knew. The freezer door is the first thing I thought of when I saw this picture. With a kitchen full of girls, with him looking that sexy, of my melt. It also could be the cooler door too. It would not matter as I would need a cool off in either.

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    • You should print out the picture and surreptitiously stick it to the freezer door in the kitchen, Katie 😉 Anything to make us smile while we work can only be good. Smoulder, goofy grin or smile – he lifts my spirits, unfailingly, every time. For that alone I am thankful.

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      • I wonder what my boss would say, I am sure she would not have the same reaction. Since I am at a different school I will not give the rest of the “girls” a heart attack. I have great mental pictures I keep for when I need them.

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        • Mental pictures are safer, agreed. And can be conjured up at will. Might be a better plan than print-outs 😉

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          • Along with some great mental music, to sing to self that never gets air time in the States. It will block out that music that is not that good that keeps getting air time.

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    • Oh Katie, the idea of RA appearing anywhere near a girls’ high school … You wanna write a fanfic with me? We’ll keep it to the girls aged 16+, shall we? Namely, the girls we used to be?

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      • Groovergreen, The “girls” are the ladies I work with, we always call are selves “girls”, the youngest is 36 and the oldest is 63 ( we do have to get a new person for my kitchen so the age is yet to unknown). We have four schools and we are just a boys and girls K- 12 in the States. But I could see a problem at the high school with all those girls and maybe the middle school too. The school I am at is ages 8 – 11 and starting to get boy crazy.

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  18. I hope that your “batteries” have been loaded, nice to have you back Guylty 🙂
    *ooof *! Thank you ! .. this photo was taken at my order,I think 😀
    I like this GoG stare as much as I like his most goofy smiles.
    ( never noticed the doors, how very observant I am 😉 )

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  19. Loved this! Both the candid and the posed images relfect the quinessential Armitage mystique–mysterious when he wants to be, yet oh so accessible as well. Sighhhh!

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    • Oooh, have I already replied to your comment, Gratiana? Can’t see as I am on mobile app at the mo… In any case, thanks! Mysterious RA, ahhh!

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  20. […] Richard Armitage photo Source […]

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  21. […] persistently a-flutter (there we are!)? Paula Parrish for Fault. Anders Overgaard for Glamour. Robert Ascroft. And now we are looking at Ben Rayner, probably one year on. Just judging from the timeline when […]

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  22. […] wrote a very interesting *ooof* post a while […]

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  23. […] Guylty’s talked about it, this “confessor” talked about it, I’ve talked about it, briefly — that weird, edgy feeling I get when something’s happening in Richard Armitage’s career and the reports and news and pictures and comments and fan sighting accounts are flying fast and furious. It’s an interesting variation on or combination with this attitude — the perception that things used to be better or at least easier when the fandom was smaller. We look back to when things were under control. […]

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  24. […] Ascroft is a celebrity and fashion photographer with a distinct glossy style that focusses clearly on the beauty and attractiveness of his subjects. A photographer with a classic and classy approach. ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof […]

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