Thursday, August 9, 2018

Simon Pegg

Simon Pegg, Toronto, Sept. 10, 2007

COMEDIANS HAVE A STRANGE ENERGY. More than any other performer I've photographed - actors, musicians, you name it - comedians (in general - there are, of course, exceptions) have a compulsion to be "on" all the time, to project something at the camera that has the curious effect of revealing very little about themselves.

I can't help but see that happening in this shoot with Simon Pegg, done at the film festival when he was in town promoting his role in Run Fatboy Run. On one hand, shots like the one above, despite its technical shortcomings (sharp focus is overrated, to be honest), telegraph the most basic facts about the subject, or at least those fact that they want known before anything else. He fast; he's funny; he's too much for the camera to capture.

Simon Pegg, Toronto, Sept. 10, 2007

Nearly every comedian I've shot has this "come out with guns blazing" attitude for a photo shoot, and I can see why some photographers would be happy to work with it, to simply treat the session as a kind of wildlife photography. This isn't very satisfying to me, so I tried to wait Pegg out as he sat in front of me with the window in the suite at the Intercontinental behind me, providing a direct, unbounced north light.

The result was a stand-off; eventually he got tired of making faces, but when he relaxed (sort of) and simply faced my camera, it was hard to push past that hint of defiance in his eyes that seemed to say either "I will not show you what you want to see" or "I have no idea what you expect to see." This stand-off is where most shoots with comics ends for me, unless I have a little more time to wear them out and maybe even boss them around. It's also the reason why I always let out a little inward groan when I learn that I've been assigned to photograph a comedian.

No comments:

Post a Comment