Friday, July 27, 2018

Kelly MacDonald

Kelly MacDonald, Toronto, Sept. 8, 2007

YESTERDAY I WROTE A POST ABOUT TAKING PHOTOS OF REALLY BEAUTIFUL WOMEN. As soon as I wrote the word "beauty" I was aware that the word is a subjective one, and that there is no one, definitive, empirical concept of beauty. I also wrote about how taking photos of beautiful people can be a dispiriting exercise for a photographer because the subject's apparent, intrinsic attractiveness will register with viewers almost equally in a technically great photo or a mediocre one.

I wrote about Great Beauties - those women (and men) who by some huge popular consensus set a standard for what we consider beautiful in a human being. I didn't talk about my own conception of beauty, and who I consider to be beautiful, since it's so often divergent from that consensus standard. There are women (and men) I consider to be beautiful who might not register at all with a majority of viewers, and Scottish actress Kelly MacDonald is one of them.

Kelly MacDonald, Toronto, Sept. 8, 2007

I was given the assignment to photography MacDonald and Monica Bellucci on the same day. I've said that I was nervous about photographing the Great Beauty, Belluci; I was just as nervous with MacDonald. I also remember that the reaction of the men waiting in the crowded hallways of the hotel was the same for both Bellucci and MacDonald. The former was glamour distilled, the latter a modestly dressed woman in sensible summer shoes, but this reminded me that the beauty standards of movies and magazines don't usually matter much to most men, whose concept of beauty is more about the impression of freshness and health and intelligence than imposing mystique.

The light I found in the room at the Intercontinental was much better for MacDonald - the sort of flat but focused light that it had taken me quite a few shoots to discover in those rooms, and a few more shoots to learn to work with from the moment I clicked the shutter to the finished digital file. She seemed a little nervous, so I remember giving a little more direction than I liked, mostly to get her to relax just enough for me to capture the very particular, approachable loveliness that I thought was at the heart of her appeal onscreen in roles from Trainspotting to No Country for Old Men to Boardwalk Empire.

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