Thursday, March 3, 2016

Helena Bonham Carter

Helena Bonham Carter, Toronto, Jan. 1996

SOMETIMES YOU HAVE LUCKY DAYS. Thanks to a combination of disorganization and depression, some key photo shoots from my archives have partly or entirely gone missing. Last year, while putting up my portraits of Helena Bonham Carter on the occasion of her split with director Tim Burton, I noticed that one of my two negative sheets wasn't in the binder where it should have been. I cursed my carelessness and hoped that it would turn up one day.

Last month, during a whirlwind post-holiday clean-up around the house (instigated by my wife) I was forced to go through a box full of bags. Tucked into a binder in a messenger bag I once used for darkroom gear, I found the missing Bonham Carter negatives. I was especially elated as they were the ones with what I considered at least one or two of the best frames from the shoot. And to celebrate, here's a selection from those once-missing negatives.

Helena Bonham Carter, Toronto, Jan. 1996

As I recalled in my previous post, this was one of my favorite shoots from my time at NOW magazine, because my subject - a notorious eccentric - responded to my camera with a real performance, a tiny woman in baggy clothes, running through a gamut of expressions while sunk in the depths of an enormous hotel chair.

Helena Bonham Carter, Toronto, Jan. 1996

Her essentially pre-Raphaelite persona is on show in at least two of these shots. I'd like to take more credit for these portraits, but Bonham Carter really met me more than halfway with this shoot, underlining the importance of trying to get a performance out of your portrait subjects. It doesn't have to be quite as nearly melodramatic as these shots, but for the brief period when you and your subject are facing each other in a little bubble of concentration, you'll have more to work with in the end when you direct them just a little to put on a little show.


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