Thursday, July 12, 2018

Harry Shearer

Harry Shearer, Toronto, April 25, 2007

THE FIRST TIME I SAW THIS IS SPINAL TAP, AT A DOWNTOWN MULTIPLEX, a long-haired metalhead dude ahead of me on the escalator after the movie turned to his equally long-haired metalhead buddy and said, "I don't get it - why make a movie about a band that sucks?" Even if the movie wasn't as seminal as it is, this anecdote alone would endear it to me for all time.

Similarly, Harry Shearer would be a legend to me even if he hadn't co-wrote the film and played bassist Derek Smalls. So I was a bit overawed when I got the assignment to do his portrait when he was in town, promoting either A Couple of White Chicks at the Hairdresser (unlikely, as I don't think it was ever released outside the U.S.) or The Simpsons Movie (more likely, though he might have been in town for some completely different reason.

Harry Shearer, Toronto, April 25, 2007

The assignment was at a hotel I'd never shot in before - the Grand Hotel & Suites at Jarvis and Dundas East, which I remembered from when the building was the RCMP headquarters. We did the shoot in a meeting room on the main floor instead of one of the suites, which probably explains the chair - hyperbole in the form of furniture - and the generous shooting space, not to mention the dismal lighting, from overhead fixtures and pot lights.

The mixed lighting sources means that this shoot is nearly unprintable in colour, so I've rendered these frames in black and white. I've also played with the focus in processing, subtly with the bottom frame, more dramatically in the one at the top, to give the look of a very wide lens with a very, very narrow aperture, or a view camera with the focal plane shifted.

I had my doubts about even posting these photos until after I'd managed - with considerable effort - to correct the shortcomings of the original images. Which is another reason for me to be grateful for the digital revolution.


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