Thursday, August 16, 2018

Tricia Helfer

Tricia Helfer, Toronto, Sept. 12, 2007

I'M NOT SURE WHY 2007 WAS THE YEAR THAT MY FILM FESTIVAL felt like I was shooting for a fashion magazine. Perhaps it was the direction our editor, Jodi, wanted to take the paper, in pursuit of the ideal young female reader demographic. Perhaps we'd simply accrued enough pull that we could ask for interviews and shoots with some of the more glamorous guests at the festival.

In any case, I wasn't complaining. 2007 might have been my busiest festival ever, and while doing up to seven shoots a day can be taxing on your creative inspiration, it helps if a) your subject is physically attractive and b) they have some training in posing for cameras. As your classic farmgirl-turned-model-turned-actress, Tricia Helfer fit this bill perfectly, and while I might have pushed for her to provide me with something less than a model's repertoire of looks if I'd had more time, this shoot came at the end of a long day and I was frankly willing to coast.

Tricia Helfer, Toronto, Sept. 12, 2007

Helfer was still in the middle of her run as the Cylon baddie Number Six on Battlestar Galactica when I took these photos - a cultural phenomenon that was part of the avalanche of shows that made premium cable the new Hollywood, and began shooting the kneecaps off of both cinematic features and prime time TV. As an ex-model-turned-actress she was perfect for the role of an unnaturally beautiful humanoid created by a machine race that achieved sentience, inasmuch as really beautiful people often embody what's called the "uncanny valley" effect - that trait of computer-generated actors that might look realistic but possess an ineffable but undeniably disturbing quality that doesn't seem quite human.

But perhaps that was just the light. I photographed Helfer in a suite at the Intercontinental that, due to the time of day, was filled with the strangest but most flattering available light I'd ever encountered in a hotel room. The rooms at the Intercontinental were famously dim, so I could scarcely believe what I was seeing through my viewfinder when I had Helfer sit in what I'd just assumed was the brightest point in the room. I doubt that I could have duplicated that light with a kit full of strobes.

Tricia Helfer, Toronto, Sept. 12, 2007

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