Friday, May 4, 2018

Jessica Biel

Jessica Biel, Toronto, Nov. 2004

ANOTHER SHOOT WHERE I CAN ONLY TAKE CREDIT FOR EVERYTHING THAT ISN'T THE SUBJECT. Esquire magazine voted Jessica Biel the "Sexiest Woman Alive" the year after I took these photos, and from a purely objective point of view it's hard not to see why. Which is a roundabout way of saying that, for most people, the composition, quality of light, choice of pose and colour manipulation in these photos - the parts that are mine - are entirely irrelevant to their response.

Biel was in town promoting Blade Trinity alongside the film's director. (Wesley Snipes was either unavailable or unwilling to do local press.) She was on the first steep gradient of her rise to stardom, with more supporting than starring roles on her brief resume, but that would change quickly. This is, by and large, the point where I photographed most of the big names in my portfolio.

Jessica Biel, Toronto, Nov. 2004

I was on solid ground setting up these shots - the old Four Seasons in Yorkville, the shallow alcove by the big windows, a big wash of midday sunlight bounced and filtered around the bright room. I had spent almost a year with the paper's Canon digital camera and had a pretty good idea what I could get out of my digital "negatives." I felt close to regaining the stride I had lost years earlier and during my three years of retirement from the business.

Additionally, I no longer felt the pressure of needing each shoot to be a calling card for new business and the advancement of my professional reputation. I was essentially working incognito, though in plain sight, and the lifespan of each new portrait that made it into the free daily was roughly the time it took to go from the newsstand to the recycling bin.

Like most beautiful women, Biel knew how to look at the camera as if there wasn't an unshaven, underslept photographer behind it. (My first daughter had been born the previous year and her sister would be born less than two months later. My principal memories of this time mostly involve exhaustion.) If these portraits have any value, much of the credit has to go to the subject.

Jessica Biel, Toronto, Nov. 2004

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