Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Jay Baruchel

Jay Baruchel, Toronto, July 10, 2008

JAY BARUCHEL WAS THE LOCAL BOY MADE GOOD WHEN I TOOK THESE PORTRAITS. If by "local" you mean born in Ottawa and raised in Montreal and living in Toronto. In any case, he'd gone from Canadian television to a small part in Almost Famous to membership in the Judd Apatow comic universe, and my best guess was that I was photographing him as he was publicizing Tropic Thunder, which came out around this time.

I didn't do a lot of portraits in my last year at the free daily - not as many as I'd done previously. So when I did get a decent portrait assignment, I wanted to make it count; I was no longer just pointing the camera and hoping for the best, as I'd done more often that I'd care to admit back at the beginning of my return to portrait work a few years' previous.

Jay Baruchel, Toronto, July 10, 2008

I shot Baruchel at my usual stomping grounds - the Intercontinental on Bloor. We didn't have a room for the interview, so I shot this on a couch in the ground floor bar, which just happened to have some nice light and a dark grey wall just behind my subject, the product of a recent renovation of the hotel. I actually used to spend a lot of time in the same bar over a decade previous, when it had a decent piano player who favoured standards, and my own stubbornly single social life revolved around restaurants and hotel bars.

Like my portraits of Ben Stein a month earlier, these pictures are the result of four years of shooting, starting from a point where I didn't consider myself a photographer any more. I often refer to the work I did for the free daily as being a style with no style, mostly because I'd completely abandoned the look I'd developed and the working method I'd relied on in the '90s. After four years, a new style - simpler and cleaner than the one I'd had before - was emerging. I felt cautiously optimistic. Big mistake.

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