Friday, March 30, 2018

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway, Toronto, March 2004

FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE FREE DAILY HAD PUT ME BACK TO WORK TAKING PORTRAITS, I began to suspect that things were going to be different to what I'd been doing for years. I suppose the light bulb went off with this shoot with Anne Hathaway, who was just ending her ingenue phase when I took these photos in the Spring of 2004.

Hathaway - an uncommonly pretty young woman - had made her name in Disney films like the Princess Diaries franchise, and was in Toronto promoting Ella Enchanted, a fairy tale film that was very much more of the same. Brokeback Mountain would come out a year later, and with it a series of mature roles that would lead to an Oscar in 2012. I caught her on the cusp, which was probably a good thing, since I doubt if I'd have had this sort of access again.

Anne Hathaway, Toronto, March 2004

The shoot wasn't what you'd call challenging. A photogenic subject meets you at least halfway; the biggest challenge is to catch them doing something that isn't merely beauty being witnessed and recorded. Sometimes that means pushing and prodding and creating scenarios that push the subject out of their comfort zone. Sometimes it just involves shooting a lot of photos and hoping for the frames between the winning smile and the coy glance. This shoot was definitely the latter, not the former. I never get much of the former.

Anne Hathaway, Toronto, March 2004

In just four months of shooting portraits for the free daily, I'd done shoots with just as many celebrities. At the beginning of my career, they'd have been rarities, captured by accident during the earliest moment of their rise to fame, and often because I found them interesting. During my decade at NOW magazine, an alternative weekly, I was assigned to shoot celebrities more often, but they were in the paper more out of critical interest than because their celebrity made whatever they were doing worth a feature or a cover story.

The free daily, however, was a mainstream publication, and our new editor had decided that we were going to use our growing national circulation to compete with other big dailies for the big names. I have to give that editor, Jodi Isenberg, credit for recognizing the opportunity and making me the paper's principal photographer, putting more celebrities in front of my camera over the next four years than I'd seen in nearly two decades of work.

About a year before I took these photos, and when Jodi was still just the paper's entertainment editor (taking over for my wife, who'd left the business) I had lunch with my old friend Chris Buck when he was passing through town. I was working as the paper's interim photo editor, processing other people's work and pretty sure that my shooting days were over.

As we said goodbye outside the doors to the building where the free daily had its offices, Chris actually pleaded with me to start shooting again. I was flattered, but didn't see how - or why - I'd find my way to shooting full time again. Within a few months, Jodi had given me the opportunity, and in time I'd rediscover the motivation to imagine myself as a working photographer. The five photos I've posted this week, taken in just four months, record one of the most pivotal moments in my career.

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