*ooof*: What Happened in the Studio, part 3

[Mild RPF warning]

Apologies for posting outside the regular schedule – I thought I’d entertain you with an early *ooof* while you are waiting for tonight’s exciting happenings at the Hobbit world premiere in LA. Lots of new images to be expected, I suppose… Guylty is ready for the emergency, although I won’t be watching the premiere on live stream – 2.30 am is when old girl Guylty takes her beauty sleep. I trust you will have the best bits ready for me tomorrow. To while away the time I give you this…

Leslie Hassler 1

I think, therefore I am.
Armitage in a shot by Leslie Hassler
For New York Moves, Nov. 2013

When the photos from the Hassler shoot made their initial appearance, three weeks ago, my strongest reaction was to the ones shot on location. Since then, we have seen two other new images emerge with the New York Moves celebrity profile on Armitage – two of which I gave the *ooof* treatment previously, and the wonderful sexy Elvis/Jackson move which had to be emergency *ooof*ed last week. It may come to you as a surprise, that I am yet again foregoing the chance to discuss my personal favourite from the shoot. The things I do for the benefit of the fandom… Especially considering that today’s shot is not necessarily a favourite, either. But it will give me ample opportunity to further discuss an aspect of portrait photography which I touched upon last week. And let’s face it: I can find something delicious in *any* of Armitage’s photos, given time and Hi-res images *ggg*

Once again Mr A has been placed in front of a neutral studio backdrop. This time it is a brilliant white backdrop – fitting, as he is casually dressed and wearing a checked shirt and dark waistcoat that stand out nicely against the blown-out white of the background. The head and shoulders image shows Armitage placed at a 30 degrees angle once again (cf. this ) with his pretty face turned towards the camera, inclining slightly forwards. The result is a half-profile that allows the viewer a look at both eyes, as well as his left ear, the delicious, luscious dark locks really, I am personally offended – how come men can have such beautiful hair??? Most unfair!!! and the much admired aristocratic nose. The b/w image lives off the contrast between the white backdrop and the dark hair/clothes of the sitter. And off the inclusion of the sitter’s right hand in the shot. Reaching up to his chin, Armitage appears to be stroking his stubbled jawline. A double bonus for us – as the consensus is that Armitage’s hands are *always* worth including in a shot, and as they are acting as guiding lines for our gaze when viewing the image. We may instantly search for the eyes when we come upon this image, but then our gaze inevitably falls upon the touchingly veined right hand, slender wrist and hairy forearm. *sighs* Following the lines upwards to the fingertips, we are brought back to the face – the masculine dark stubble, the sharp angles of the nose and the accent circonflexe of the slightly cocked left eyebrow, as well as the softer lines of mouth, jaw, sideburn, hairline, and the ear. The suggestively slightly opened mouth with a hint of an upper-lip pucker carries some intriguing promise of softness and warmth or maybe that is just my imagination running away with me, despite the relatively thin lips, while the stubble, the fluffy waviness of the full head of hair together with the glint in Armitage’s right eye transmit a message of assertive virility and masculinity bet you didn’t notice that… NOT.

I detect a hint of a challenging look on the sitter’s face – “you think you can look at me?” – that is equally softened and intensified with the pose the photographer has asked Armitage to assume. The chin-stroking hand signifies thoughtfulness and as such could soften the challenging look. “I am a thinking man”, this pose seems to say. “I have something going on behind that pretty face of mine!” But at the same time it can also act as a teasing gesture, emphasising the tactile quality of the chin – which the viewer may only infer but not touch themselves. “This is what you’re missing, ladies. Can’t touch this!” *da da da dum dum, bee bee… cue MC Hammer* And don’t we fucking know! *ovariesexplodeinfrustration*

It is, no doubt, a rather artificial pose in these circumstances. The face-in-hands from two week’s ago came across much more natural than this, even though in both images the subject connects via a direct gaze with the viewer. But the partially hidden, slightly contorted face of the other shot seemed so much less intent on beauty, that it touched via its apparent unguardedness and innocence. The chin-carressing gesture, on the other hand, looks contrived and artificial. In a neutral studio environment, the only context we are given is the shoot itself. And whatever magic may be in this pose and this gaze, is cancelled out by our recognition that this is posed – not a reflection of reality-at-that-moment but a deliberate arranging of the sitter in an aesthetically pleasing pose in order to achieve maximum effect.

Lest you should think that I have a problem with posed images, let me hasten to add that little hand gestures and the minute arranging of the head position are tools from the photographer’s arsenal that are indispensible and serve more than just aesthetic purposes. One of the big challenges of studio shoots is the distinct lack of context. There are no circumstantial or environmental references available for the sitter – the scene has been deliberately emptied of all outside distraction in order to focus entirely on the face of the subject. Pros are able to deal with that, and know how to provide the photographer with facial expressions. Amateurs, however, often appear like deer in headlight – thrown into an artificial situation with the spotlight trained on them, literally.

In that instance, the role of the photographer as a “director” is crucial. A good, experienced photographer not only knows which poses look good on camera, but is also good at giving directions. This serves two functions: On the one hand the photographer instructs the sitter to assume an aesthetically pleasing pose. This may be in order to convey a certain mood or aspect of the sitter’s personality, but it can also serve more superficial aesthetic purposes in that the pose may hide the sitter’s anatomical weaknesses. The head resting daintily on a hand may, for instance, cover a double chin. Or a pose where the sitter angles her body at a 30 degree angle and looks back over her shoulder at the camera may add definition to the jawline and stretch the chin. It can guide the gaze in the final composition – much as we can see in this shot, for instance. It also works as a visual device for balancing the composition of the photo – in terms of contrasts, colours, shapes or lines.

On the other hand, giving directions also allows the sitter active participation in a shoot: The process of being photographed has a passive feel – the subject is only “being” while the power to make the image is with the photographer. When the photographer gives directions, the sitter has to react. This will give the sitter not only some control over how he is being photographed, but also a purpose; it literally gives him something *to do*. Those pesky hands? They can be brought up in front of the face. That trembling lip? Could be curled in a smile. Deciphering the meaning of directions and translating them into the actual poses keeps the sitter busy – and by so doing occupies his mind with a task, rather than allowing the mind to wander into the dangerous territory of meta-thinking. As soon as a sitter consciously starts thinking about his role in a shoot, you have lost him. He will be self-critically assessing his pose, will be wondering how stupid he looks, worrying whether his nose hair is visible and why he is doing this *at all*. It helps when the photographer is clear in her instructions. In a way, she has to be like Sir Peter himself – putting the facial expression she expects of her subject on her own face, showing the pose with her own body, running through the studio until her pants fall off. Not very hard to do when it comes to that last one *ahem*. With Armitage around, my pants would probably sit pretty loose, in any case…

So what happened in the studio? Lasr time we looked, Armitage had slipped up a little… This is what happened next:

Richard had found it hard to get back into the swing of the shoot after his little lapse earlier. The slip of the tongue had not gone unnoticed by me. But neither had he missed my reaction to it. After he had eventually prised his hands off his face again, I had suggested a little break – not least to regain my own composure. Richard toddled off behind a folding screen in the corner to change into another shirt for a different look. I was still fiddling with the backdrop as he ambled back,

D’you think this’ll do?” He said behind me, as I stood up from smoothing the white paper backdrop – and turned right into wide chest dressed in a checked shirt and a waist-coat. “Ya… yes, you are gorgeous… I mean… that looks great”, I stammered. He put on a pleased smile and stepped around me to sit down on the bar stool again. “Shall we just pick up where we left off?”, he offered. Jesus Christ, no, I exclaimed internally, but I merely nodded, jerking my camera back up towards my face to hide the spreading blush behind. I have to take control of this again!, I told myself, and to him I said, “Yes, Richard, let’s just do that. How about I get you to do some poses? Is that alright?” I stepped up beside him with the light meter to take a new reading. I held the little gadget under his chin and released the flash. “F 22, 1/160th”, I murmured. “Yeah, sure”, he agreed to my request, “listen, I’ve done this before. I’ll do some modelling poses for you now”, he suggested, turning his head to me. I could feel his breath on my nape and involuntarily shivered. I moved back to my shooting position and brought the camera up again. “Ok, give me some poses, Richard.”

What would you like me do?”, he asked. A lot of things, but most of them not printable, I thought to myself. I lamely suggested “Give me one of your Guy of Gisporn… eh, GisBORNE smoulders.” I stumbled. “Ugh, not that old chestnut!”, he replied. Was that an almost malicious twinkle in his eyes that I saw through the lens? “I’ve seen some really nice shots recently of some of my friends. I’d like to try some of their poses, if you don’t mind… How about this one?”, he offered sweetly.” He quickly shifted on the stool, moving his body sideways with the left shoulder facing the camera. Before I could say anything, he turned his head towards me and glanced back over his shoulder., looking up from under his lashes. I involuntarily-automatically released the shutter and then swore under my breath. Unusable. “Or maybe more like this?” He turned full-frontal to the camera again, squared his shoulders back, brought his right hand up to his face and stuck his index finger between his teeth, giving me a fake-innocent smile, worthy of a 13-year-old Lolita. “Like that?”, he asked in an innocent tone. “Ehhh, mh, well…”, I ummed and ahed. “Eh, I don’t know, Richard, it’s all a bit…”, I stumbled, wondering how to break to him that male pin-up photography was not my forte… “I am not sure if that pose is… appropriate… eh…”, I meekly added. “Maybe a little less… suggestive???”

His eyebrows arched. “Not good? Well, then let’s do the predictable stuff!” For a split second, he put on a disappointed pout, then he stretched his back up again, inclined his head forward, looked at the camera and brought his right hand up to his chin. “The thinker!”, he captioned his own pose. Click! Richard doubled over, laughing. “Gotcha!

~ by Guylty on December 2, 2013.

31 Responses to “*ooof*: What Happened in the Studio, part 3”

  1. Love it!! And the ficlet, of course, Oh, how he could rattle one if he went into Naughty Teasing Armitage Mode during such a session!!

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    • My idea of a fun shoot – where both sitter and photographer are constantly in stitches, egging each other on with silly stuff. There’s nothing as easy to connect over as humour… (Don’t mind a bit of flirting, either, although that would make me fluster *ggg*)

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      • Totally agree about the humor. Makes interview situations better, too. Sometimes people are tense about talking about themselves and a little laughter can lighten things up. And a little flirting would be a bonus . . . *sigh*

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        • Humour is my secret weapon. I use it when I teach photography, too. Tends to work 🙂 And yes, in interviews, too… Never take myself too seriously.

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  2. Great fun as usual Guylty, but I think you need to nap and rest your eyes for the big doings tonight and the avalanche of material due in from the red carpet vanity wall.

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    • *ggg* You are right, Perry – except 6.30 Pacific is 2.30 GMT, so definitely not doable considering that I am on early shift tomorrow morning. Am actually thinking of going to bed extra early tonight so that I can get up at 5 and get in an hour’s fangirling 😉 Will you be watching?

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      • You bet I will be watching. My first time. What’s one tired day?Early to bed and fan girl. It’s probably no more than 90 minutes.

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        • Hehe – good on ya! I am undecided whether I am an old fart or an old hand. Been there, done that 😉 I wish I was being paid for fangirling RA, then I’d happily stay up *ggg*

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          • Oh, HOW I wish I were paid. Last year I was up at all hours for events in London, Wellington, Tokyo . . . not so sure this year. Busier and also health not so great. We shall see . . .

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  3. Thanks for this unexpected gift, guylty! I read it on the tram and was so busy giggling I nearly missed my stop. Naughty girl, you! 😀
    About silly unnatural poses, isn’t it funny how easily we forgive those, along with poorly chosen clothes and similar minor discomforts? Especially if we can detect a bit of self- irony in the eyes and the smile.

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  4. When I look at this picture I always think some cheeky man is has grabbed his chin and turned him toward the camera!! His arm looks completely unattached to him? But the eyes, you nailed that one, my dear. Loved the fic…whenever you put the mild RPF warning I’m always expecting a little, you know….One of these days you’ll let us have it.

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  5. Thanks Guylty for this enlightening “lesson” on how to entertain a sitter and how to keep him busy, though he’s not getting any stray ideas!
    However there is something strange with me and this picture. When I saw it for the first time, and after viewing it numerous times now, I still have this impression, that this hand seems not to belong to Richard, but to an entirely different person. For me it looks, as if somebody from the outside is reaching into this picture (grabbing Richards chin…. Oh, I want to touch… like you!! Hee hehe). A bit creepy. Weird, isn’t it?
    However I love his handsome hands. There can never be enough of those wonderful, deft hands!

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    • I agree, there is a bit of that. A disembodied hand. I wonder whether that is due to the hand and forearm appearing so large in the shot?
      (This was an *ooof* that was chosen for what I could say about the image rather than what it does to my insides *ggg* – and it shows…)

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  6. Great post, Guylty. I wonder what Richard is thinking about? Could he be contemplating fun with the photographer away from the studio? Or perhaps a little game of hide the light meter?

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  7. Guy of Gisporn… I mean GisBORNE…
    I can’t. I’m done. Stick a fork in me!!!!!!

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  8. I know that I could find a pair of jeans that would fall off without much help, I as long as I forgot the belt. Thanks for explaining how it works with the sitter. I don’t mind an early *ooof* day, works for me. Great ficlet too!

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    • Thanks Katie – sorry for late reply, am currently out of the house half the day. The early *ooof* out of the way, I could theoretically do an emergency *ooof* now… The need is there.

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  9. 😀 😀 😀 *ooof* Richard in Lolita’s pose LOL! Can’t stop laughing, my imagination is too vivid, Guylty.

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    • I have to admit I was giggling while I was imagining that. I’d love to see a bit more teasing and fun in RA’s imagery. The smoulders are nice, but some silliness is just so uplifting…

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  10. Guy of Gisporn *facepalm* If the internet hadn’t trashed the porn movie industry, there’d be a beautiful screenplay in this. You could take the stills 🙂 And yes, that disembodied hand is indeed weird. It is RA’s hand – I’d know its perfect proportions anywhere — but heaven help my imagination from wandering down slash alley.
    Totally agree about the power of humour in tense media situations, and I bet you are the master of it, dear Guylty!

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    • *kheehee* I have to admit that I didn’t see that slash scenario coming until you mentioned it, Groovie. It kind of tingles me, though *ggg*.
      As for me being a master of humour – don’t forget I am German. I am genetically predisposed to being humourless 😉

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  11. Beautiful, just beautiful, the pic, the analysis and the ficlet. And we´ll get the proof soon…

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  12. […] A previous professional model, Hassler knows both the work in front of as well as behind the camera. That shows clearly in her work in which her subjects appear less iconic and glossy but relaxed and life-like. ooof ooof ooof […]

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