Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Joseph Fiennes

Joseph Fiennes, Toronto, Sept. 2004

ANOTHER ENGLISH ACTOR, ANOTHER PAINFULLY BRIEF PORTRAIT SESSION. After playing the playwright himself in Shakespeare In Love, Joseph Fiennes managed to hitch a ride on the subsequent wave of Shakespearean films that followed by playing Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice, with Al Pacino at the top of the bill as Shylock.

At roughly its halfway point, the film festival's press schedule starts to get a bit ad hoc, with interview rooms getting scarce and schedules constantly blown. I did this shoot in an empty banquet room at the Intercontinental, with at least one other photographer working in another corner of the space. The best spot I could find to photograph Fiennes was tucked into the curtains next to a big window overlooking Bloor Street.

Joseph Fiennes, Toronto, Sept. 2004

He was not, if I recall correctly, very chatty, and resisted my attempts to make small talk. Which was fine - in the best of all possible circumstances, I like my subject to be as silent as myself, though it's always better to have at least a few minutes to let the effects of the benevolent standoff between photographer and subject produce at least a moment of discomfort or confrontation or something in between.

What I got was Fiennes sedately refusing any possibility of my camera capturing a glimpse of interior life. His face in the top photo puts me in mind of a lens staring back at a lens - a cool confrontation that he's intent on ending in a draw. It's a face not unlike a Jacobean court portrait, with the sitter determined not to give an inch of their status away to some itinerant painter.

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