Thursday, April 5, 2018

Rachel McAdams

Rachel McAdams, Toronto, July 2004

ANY IDIOT CAN TAKE A DECENT PHOTO OF AN ATTRACTIVE PERSON. This is a reduction of what I call the "Michals Rule," inspired by photographer Duane Michals' dictum that there is no such thing as a bad picture of a famous person. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I always feel stupid taking credit or accepting compliments when someone likes any photo I've taken of anyone either famous, attractive or both.

My shoot with Rachel McAdams could not have been simpler. I had the usual scant handful of minutes with her in the old Four Seasons in Yorkville, where I found my favorite bit of light in their helpfully bright and minimal rooms. Normally this would have been enough for a serviceable photo or two, but McAdams was an unusually rewarding portrait subject, for reasons known only to her.

Rachel McAdams, Toronto, July 2004

I'd like to take credit for this, but I'm not sure I can. As I've said countless times, I don't give my subjects a lot of direction at first, preferring to simply see how they react to having a camera pointed at them. Additionally, since I tend to use wider lenses rather than long ones (the Exif data on these photos tells me I used my 50mm lens on the free daily's Canon digital camera; I usually used the 35mm lens, so I must have come over all Karsh that day) I rely on forcing the subject to react to me being closer to them than they might find comfortable.

McAdams either wasn't put off at all, or she was having a good day, because this is my second pass through this shoot for the purposes of this blog, and I still have a few good frames I have't posted yet. Considering that I only shot a total of 24 frames, I'd call this an unqualified success. (As a footnote, I'm still amazed at how, at least during my first year with a digital camera, I came away from jobs with frames numbering some multiple of 12, since that's how many shots you'd have on commercially available rolls of either 120 or 35mm film. But I digress.)

Rachel McAdams, Toronto, July 2004

McAdams is a Canadian, and despite still being a marquee name, apparently still lives here in Toronto rather than in Los Angeles or New York. I photographed her in the year when Mean Girls and The Notebook were released, just as her career was exploding, which was great timing for me, as I doubt that I'd have had this sort of access again.

There's a story about McAdams from a couple of years after this shoot, with her showing up at an Annie Liebovitz Vanity Fair cover shoot with Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley and discovering that the trio of actresses were all supposed to be nude. She politely declined to take part, then fired the publicist who had neglected to tell her. If I wasn't already fond of McAdams after our brief but (to me) productive shoot, this only made me admire her more.

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