Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Giovanni Ribisi

Giovanni Ribisi, Toronto, March 21, 2007

YOU WANT IT DARKER? I must have wanted it darker on the day I photographed Halle Berry and Giovanni Ribisi at the Windsor Arms Hotel, judging by the results. The actors were in town publicizing the film Perfect Stranger; co-star Bruce Willis had obviously been unavailable but I didn't mind as I'd been enjoying Ribisi's work for years by that point, and continue to do so today.

As I explained with the Halle Berry post, I showed up for this shoot with a camera I was reviewing - Sony's a100, the first DSLR in their camera lineup. A prudent photographer would have done some tests to see how it performed in the challenging circumstances of my hotel room shoots, but I didn't. Imagine my shock when I walked into the rooms at the Windsor Arms to be reminded that it was a hotel with tiny windows letting in scant light.

Still, I've shot using available light for so long that, as far as I'm concerned, any light is good light. But the Ribisi shoot wasn't about making do with poor light like the Halle Berry shoot I did the same day - the light I found in the room where I shot Giovanni Ribisi was amazing! Dim, but amazing, which means that I've worked especially hard to make these shots turn out years after they were taken, to overcome the technical limitations of the source image.

Giovanni Ribisi, Toronto, March 21, 2007

As I said before, the Sony a100 didn't perform particularly well in low light. Perhaps if I'd shot RAW in addition to jpeg I might have had something richer to work with, but I've only started shooting uncompressed files recently. (A shameful admission, I know.) With the Halle Berry shoot I was disappointed that I couldn't find a really lovely piece of light and had to improvise, but even though I loved what I was seeing through the viewfinder with Ribisi, I knew I'd have a hell of a time making them workable for newsprint.

This is a case where I was actually taking photos with some future use in mind, beyond the job at hand. I just didn't know that this future use would be this blog. The dim but dramatic side light looked like something from an old issue of Esquire, or a British Sunday weekly magazine in the '60s, and seemed appropriate for Ribisi, who's more like the sort of actors that mixed character with leading man, back when movies were generally more interesting.

The problem was that I was working for a newspaper - I had, in fact, always worked for newsprint publications - where highlights need to pop and really dark shadows just suck up ink. This is probably the biggest disappointment I had to live with for most of my career, and the reason why I've only recently been able to present my work the way I always saw it in my mind - without a client to pay for it, to be sure, but very nearly the way I always wanted it to look.

Giovanni Ribisi, Toronto, March 21, 2007

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