Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Hilary Duff

Hilary Duff, Toronto, March 2004

HILARY DUFF WAS PROBABLY AT THE APEX OF HER EARLY STARDOM WHEN I TOOK THESE PORTRAITS. That fact didn't mean as much to me at the time as it would later, when my daughters were older and I became aware of the impact and resonance of girl culture. Today, my oldest daughter is far more impressed that I took these shots than pretty much anything else I've ever done.

The free daily assigned me to photograph Hilary Duff a month after the last episode of Lizzie McGuire had aired. Her third album wouldn't be released until September of that year, so I'm assuming she was in Toronto promoting either her latest movie, A Cinderella Story, or more probably Stuff by Duff, her clothing line. I had nearly two decades of shooting professionally by now, and had a lot of famous people in front of my camera, but I think Duff was the first who had her own Happy Meal toys.

Hilary Duff, Toronto, March 2004

Her then-massive fame wasn't readily apparent to me until I showed up for the shoot and had to negotiate a thicket of handlers. The photo call was at the Carlu, a recently renovated Art Deco gem that had opened as a restaurant in what was once Eaton's College Park. I would have loved to have used some of the period details of the room, but I knew that they probably would have been cropped out to fit the photo into one or two columns on the very tight tabloid layouts of the paper.

I posed Hilary Duff by the backlit panels of a stunning bar in the Round Room, using them as huge softbox panels in lieu of daylight. I was still unsure about how to deal with the white balance controls on the Canon Rebel digital camera the paper had loaned me, so I've never really been able to get the colour portraits to look right until now. The black and white shot at the top does a nice job of capturing Duff's persona, or so I am told. Once again, I never would have handed in a black and white shot to the paper, but this treatment just seems to suit the shot better.

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