Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Jeff Daniels

Jeff Daniels, Toronto, Sept. 2004

MOST OF THE PORTRAITS I'VE BEEN POSTING FOR THE LAST MONTH looked nothing like this when they ran in the free daily. These portraits of Jeff Daniels are good examples - I doubt if I would have handed in shots with such inky black backgrounds, or one where I'd drained most of the colour out in favour of a cool, greenish cast.

The original jpegs looked nothing like this - they were shot in the courtyard patio of the Hotel Intercontinental on Bloor with a red brick wall behind Daniels that I've burned deep into the shadows. If I'm honest with myself, I doubt if I would have even considered such radical treatments of those shots, but when I took the photos I've been showcasing here for the last month, I no longer considered myself a photographer in pursuit of a career as much as a writer with a camera, even if I spent the whole of the 2004 film festival shooting photos to go with another writer's stories.

Jeff Daniels, Toronto, Sept. 2004

Style was something I pursued when I still thought I had a career to pursue and a reputation to build. By 2004 that seemed like an illusion I'd finally discarded, and even when I walked away with decent shots - and occasionally something even better - it never occurred to me to hand in anything that didn't harmonize with the ad-stuffed pages of the free daily. I did my best to forget about this work in the years after I left the paper, and it's only now that it seems I've been allowed a do-over.

There has always been something patrician yet affable about Jeff Daniels, who I had doubtless seen in films like Terms of Endearment and Ragtime, but only really noticed when he starred in Jonathan Demme's Something Wild, nearly twenty years before I took these photos. That patrician quality was more plain in his roles in Ronald F. Maxwell's Civil War epics, and in the recent HBO series The Newsroom. I suppose that's why I had him pose in profile, and why I made these shots look more like portrait busts in my re-imagination of this shoot.

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