Friday, November 10, 2017

Ally Sheedy

Ally Sheedy, Toronto, May 1998

MOVIE STARS WERE MY MAJOR SUBJECT AT THE ZENITH OF MY CAREER. The thing is, I would never voluntarily call them that. I spent much of the '90s shooting celebrities, as far as I could tell, since "movie stars" were, in my mind, something that existed mostly before I was born, some of them surviving well into my life, but usually far out of my reach as a photographer.

When I had my very strange but memorable portrait session with Mickey Rooney, I actually felt like I was in the presence of a movie star. The rest of the time - as with this shoot with Ally Sheedy, late in my time at NOW magazine - I was shooting celebrities, or famous actors. Movie stars were never close to my age (Sheedy is only two years older than me) and if their fame began at any point in my adult life they were merely "famous."

Ally Sheedy, Toronto, May 1998

Ally Sheedy's fame was white hot over ten years before I met her, with films like The Breakfast Club. She was at the start of a second act in her career when she came to Toronto to do press for High Art, a small film where she played a reclusive lesbian artist. It was the sort of role you took when you wanted to persuade the public that they should stop imagining you as a sullen teenager who shook dandruff onto her notebook during detention.

Ally Sheedy, Toronto, May 1998

That would be a harder job than she might have imagined; when I was printing photos from this shoot for NOW's cover story at the rental darkroom, other photographers - men, mostly my age - would stop and look at the test prints I'd stuck to the white board.

"I loved her in The Breakfast Club," they all told me. "Way more than Molly Ringwald."

Ally Sheedy, Toronto, May 1998

My old standby setup with the back of a hotel curtain draped over a floor lamp to make a gauzy backdrop was getting tired by now. It was was clever and suitable for my Bjork portrait, but by now it felt stale, and this was probably the last time I used it.

I was briefly enamoured with cross-processed slide film again, having finally mastered how to use it without getting blown-out highlights (Fuji 400 ISO film shot as rated) and decided to return to it in search of more vivid colours than I was getting from slide film or (especially) colour negative.

The best shots were taken on one of the big balconies outside the corner suites at the old Four Seasons in Yorkville, in front of a big wall of pebble-finished brutalist concrete. She was very thin, and when she cocked her hip with her hands on her butt I told her to hold that pose; she looked angular and lean and a long way from the sweetly awkward teenager she'd played in her early twenties.

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