Extra *ooof*: Candid A___

*ooof*s so far have come in two formats: the regular, scheduled edition of Guylty’s weekly photo voyeurism analysis, and the first-response edition, called “emergency *ooof*”, that occasionally appears when a new set of photos of RA hit the internet. And now an “extra *ooof*”. What’s the difference? Today’s post is not a regular *ooof*, and it is not an emergency *ooof*, either, but in a category of its own due to its provenance as a candid. As I have explained before, I usually do not analyse candids. The reason for that is that in the fandom’s definition, candids are impromptu photos taken by fans, consisting of RA sightings in private or at public events, or documenting a spontaneous fan-meet. As such they do not meet professional standards, and while they are enjoyable, evocative and significant in their own way, it would be unfair to criticize the photographic value of such photos, taken by amateurs. Also, as they are spontaneously taken, they cannot be considered anything but documentary in nature – and therefore elude my usual interpretation. Moreover, candids often consist of an image of a celebrity posing with a fan. For reasons of privacy, I usually do not include such photos in my *ooof* drool pool – although I have done before in the case of this pre-me+r *ooof*  which was actually requested by the fan in the frame.

However, where there is a rule (Guylty says “No candids”), there is an exception. This image was suggested to me by RA fan CarlyQ, who is a new commenter on my *ooof*s over on me+richard, and as a thank you to her continuous support, Photo Queen Guylty deigns to analyse her requested picture. I have chosen to publish the extra *ooof* on my own platform today because I do not want to usurp too much space on my fabulous host Servetus’ blog. But enough of the preliminaries, let’s see a candid A___.

Armitage leaving Stone Street Studios, Wellington     Fan picture - Source wanted!!     And sorry for crop

A____ leaving Stone Street Studios, Wellington
Fan picture by Deanna C___
And sorry for crop

May I point out here, again, that I am not cropping out the lucky fan who found herself hugged by Mr A for reasons of silly, irrational jealousy. I am merely protecting her identity (unknown to myself), and directing your attention to the handsome roughie in this shot. As far as we know, this candid was taken outside Stone Street Studios in Wellington, NZ, some time early June this year when some fans were lucky to catch and meet Mr A as he was leaving the set. The candid is a classic example of fan photography: A____ has graciously agreed to pose for a photographic memory of the occasion with his fan. He has arranged himself next to her, putting his right arm around her shoulder, and grinning happily at the camera. What struck me when I first encountered this image (and similar fan candids like this one), is the lack of reserve that A___ shows in such encounters. While we can assume that the celebrities of today have been primed by their agents and publicists to welcome fan attention and to entertain picture requests whenever possible – after all it is important to appear approachable and to fuel the good impression that is created through enthusiastic fan accounts – it is nonetheless not a given that the celebrities allow such close proximity with strangers. In fact, I positively admire Mr A for his open attitude towards physical contact. He seems quite tactile, sidling up close to the fan, leaning in to her, not afraid to touch her shoulders and side.

I know what the attraction of these shots is for the fans: They appear as a documentary shot of the celebrity in their real life. However, they are not quite what candid photography is defined as: Candids are unprepared, spontaneous pictures. This applies both to the photographer *and* the subject. The photographer will not have set up or planned the shot in advance, but takes the opportunity to shoot when it presents itself. For the subject that means that he will either not notice that he is being photographed, or is not given a choice about being photographed. A subject who has consciously consented to a candid, however, will not be given direction on how to pose. The image is meant to reflect a casual, undistracted, unposed situation. In that sense, fan candids do not quite fit the bill – after all the celebrity in them clearly *does* pose and is aware of the camera, and even if the photographer has not planned the shoot, she has been hopeful that an opportunity to shoot would present itself.

Candid photography, btw, is not synonymous with the stalking behaviour of paparazzi photographers. As opposed to paparazzi, candid photographers make no attempt at disguising their taking pictures. Well, paparazzi are rather in-your-face, too, but they shoot secretly as much as openly, and their intention is to catch the celebrity in their private lives, for the sake of creating sensationalist non-news. That is why I will *never* touch paparazzi photos – their work may have a certain photographic standard but comes tainted. As consumers of celebrity news, I would appeal to you to boycott such work – the ethical stance of people who lurk in bushes with long lenses to catch out celebrities in compromising situations, is highly dubitable.

A candid like this picture, taken in a hurry, heavily cropped afterwards, rather low-res, is difficult to analyse. What we get from this image is simple a miniscule glimpse into the subject’s life. That still leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Just from the appearance of RA in the shot, dishevelled, wind-swept, not particularly well-groomed or suavely dressed, but with a big grin on his face, close to a fan whom he hugs, we make our assumptions. How about I fictionalise that for you? And as a bonus, you are getting 2-in-1 today, because CarlyQ has also submitted her version of events for me in the shape of a ficlet, which I include at the bottom of this post, too.

“You have to do something, R___!” He frowned. On her regular weekly call his publicist was going over the general trends in his popularity. Not that he really cared that much, but it was all part of the package, and part of the game. “I have monitored Social Media for the last four weeks, while you have been on set in Wellington. And it’s not good, I can tell you.” What? Why? Sure, he hadn’t done anything different than usual, he’d done his work during the day, hung out with his mates in the evening, the occasional public appearance. Plus, a whole slew of interviews had been done in Australia just before arriving in Wellington. As far as he was concerned, that Popcorn Taxi appearance had been received very well. From his lush bottom in his tight black trousers to the carefully askance tie, the fans had reacted positively to his participation at the public interview. The coup de grace had been his answer to the interviewer’s last question. If you could ask Tolkien anything about your character, what would you ask? – About Thorin’s romantic past, a possible love interest. Time and space had bent for a split second, in that cinema, at that moment, he was sure, as the energy in the room had positively surged, the collective heartrate risen through the roof. How did they call it in fan circles? “Ovaries burst”. He sniggered at the memory. How he had maintained that innocent smile without breaking into a grin or blushing… sure, a sign that he was a great actor, he snorted self-ironically at himself. He had to distract the attention from himself quickly to the interviewer, gently mocking him, so that noone could see how pleased he had been with the reaction to his inspired answer. Climactic, he thought. Anyway, no use in basking in past glories.

“Well, what is happening? Tell me.” “I have noticed that a lot of fans, although still seemingly committed to you, have become quite vocal and loyal fans to your co-stars.” “What’s wrong with that? I am a fan of Graham and Deano, too?” “But they have signed up for their Twitter feeds and are communicating openly. They are actually flirting. They are into the whole mature and youthful macho thing that those two embody.” “Good for them. I am sure Graham and Deano appreciate that.” “R___, you are deliberately failing to see the problem. Your fans have not entirely defected.” “Good”, he triumphantly interjected. “Don’t interrupt me, R___! I am not finished.” He flinched and hunched up his shoulders. His publicist continued, “but Graham and Deano have had enough. They have copped on that the fans are only following them because they are trying to find out through *them* what *you* have been up to. Not good for the ego. Graham told me that he is looking forward to that cage fight, and he’s going to settle the issue once and for all…” R___ smirked. No chance, McTavish. “So, what do you suggest I do, then?” “Well…” He leaned into his handset to listen intently to his publicist’s suggestions.

The phone conversation had been mulling on his mind all the next day. He had surreptitiously watched Graham and Dean all during the shoot, and later the same evening when they had gone for a drink after work. Lads. So they had something he had not? Impossible. Or if so, then he’d emulate that for the benefit of the ladies. Observe and learn. He was quick at that, and good at imitating and converting it, adding the elusive and devastating A___ je-ne-sais-quoi. Ha!

Another day over, he was ready to roll home after shooting. Nearing the barrier of the Stone Street Studios entrance, he could see a huddle of fans outside. He clenched his teeth. “Showtime! I can do rough, masculine laddishness, bitches.” He winced. He detested slurry-pit language. But maybe that was expected of Testosterone superheroes? Quick on repartee, but curt and monosyllabic. A bit of man-handling tactility. Innuendo. He reminded himself. He decided to put a certain brash, testicle-brandishing confidence into his gait, walking towards the barrier. Yeah, this was rolling, dude. Here comes King Kong, girls, watch out! Good thing he had put on his leather jacket this morning. The thoughtlessly thrown-on, worn-out open-jaws t-shirt was just right for *this* performance. Never underestimate the power of costume, he smirked to himself.

“R___! R___! Hello.” The girls had indeed been waiting for him. “How are you, R___? Will you sign an autograph for us?” He nearly broke into a smile. No, not today. He had to do this manly thing. “Yo. Yeah. Pen?”, he croaked. This was hard. Manly, A___, manly, he reminded himself. Poker face! There was excited chatter and happy smiles among the girls, as he signed a few pieces of paper that were held out to him. He had to bite his tongue to not sweetly suggest a photograph to the girls, as he was wont to do. In character, A___, stay in character, he reminded himself. There was a slight hesitation in the group, as he turned to scribble his name on the last of the papers they had been waving at him. “Your name?” He rumbled gruffly at a girl, maintaining his hard-boy image, avoiding her dreamy smile. “Carly…”, the girl said. He signed his name on the piece of paper. Carly sidled up to him. “Smile for the camera”, her friend piped up. Before he knew it, his arm had snaked around Carly’s shoulder and a happy grin had settled on his face. Click! “Got your smile, R___, thanks!”

Shit. He was out of his depth. This just wasn’t his gig.

And now for Carly’s ficlet:
He was quieter than usual today, Tammy noticed, as she began her methodical removal of the face.  Loosening the edges peeling off the prosthetic.  By the time she got the hair off she was almost sure he’d gone to sleep in the chair.  So when he spoke it surprised her a little.
“We good then?”
“We are,” she said.  “Are you coming to Gasworks tonight?  They’ve got that comedian coming in, Holloway.  Bunch of us are heading over about seven.”
He was already smiling apologetically, she held up her hand to ward off the excuses.
“It’s alright you don’t need to say anything, you know where we are if you get bored, yah?”
“Thanks, Tam..”
“Have a good weekend.”
“You too.”
He stopped at his trailer and grabbed his duffle and headed to the showers.  He scrubbed the glue from his face and arms and cranked the water as hot as he could stand it.  Letting the water soothe the his sore shoulders and back,  he thought about the new choreography he’d worked on today with Mana.  Walking through the sweeping sword forms again  and again, in his head, as he stretched his neck  and rolled his shoulders.  Should stop and grab some take out on the way home, a bottle of wine wouldn’t be  out of the question either.  He smiled, he was going to be in bed by nine tonight, guaranteed.  Man, the jet lag was brutal this time, even with the week in Australia he still felt like he was slogging through half the day.   It was the four yawns in a row that finally pulled him out of the shower.
So good to be headed out of the gates before dark, he thought, while he pulled on jeans and t-shirt and combed his hair back. He stepped into his unlaced boots, got three steps away from his trailer and went back to get his jacket.  That wind was a little brisk.  When the gate closed behind him, he felt lighter, a little relieved to let Thorin recede for the weekend.  He heard his phone whistle and stopped pulling it out of his jacket pocket. Graham letting him know they were all still at Armageddon.  I have no idea how I dodged that one, but I am glad, he thought to himself, as he headed towards the car.  The wind was picking up and if he didn’t miss his guess it would be raining by the time he arrived at the condo.

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33 thoughts on “Extra *ooof*: Candid A___

  1. Thanks guylty…I actually learned something here! I think it is something in his fearlessness when it comes to photos with fans. His willingness to not look perfect, maybe hold a silly sign, and stand with an arm wrapped around someone he’ll probably never see again and honestly smile or smile honestly enough….that you believe you are seeing his favorite moment of that day. Always something to learn from Guylty! Thank you.

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  2. One of my favorite images of Armitage. He looks so big and bulky. So huggable. And lovely of him to be so comfortable hugging a fan! Yes, a fan photo isn’t really candid, is it. Good point. Thanks, Guylty. Love your *ooofs*, emergency, regular, extra special, whatever! 😀

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    • 😀 many thanks, Marie – this was out of the ordinary. And a challenge. In fact, I lost the ficlet after labouring over it all morning. Computer decided to chew it up. Was grumpy all day. Finally pulled myself together and rewrote the whole bloody thing in the evening. Only to actually find the original thing in the last corner of my PC I hadn’t checked… Grah! But there you go…

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  3. Thank you for today’s *ooof*. I really like how he has a big smile when posing with fans. Not the same as with sit down photographers.

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  4. The fics are so good Guylty! I bet you also juggle and could rewire a house, my little Jack(ie) of all Trades 😉 This *ooof* was such a wonderful surprise and you are spoiling us Lady!

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    • Aw, Agzy!!! (((X))) As for Jack of all trades – well, you could say I am dilettante who dabbles in everything and does nothing well… I wouldn’t let myself touch the electrics anywhere! One day it will all come crushing down!

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  5. Pingback: *ooof*: Armitage as a Sitter (Literally) | Me + Richard Armitage

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