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Reading Time: 7 minutes - January 13, 2023 - by Joana Kritiotis in interview with Andy Gotts

Andy Gotts: In search of the inner child

From the new snapshot: "Humor"

Not many do it well. And none do it like British photographer Andy Gotts. Stars travel especially to have their portraits taken by him.

British Andy Gotts is one of the most sought-after celebrity photographers. In an interview, he tells us what role humor plays in his portraits: "I've been photographing actors for 32 years. When you see actors on the covers of glossy magazines like Vanity Fair and GQ, they are usually polished, styled, made up and wearing expensive borrowed clothes as well as jewelry. Therefore, when you see their portraits, the shots look very static, like mannequins or wax figures. In my photography, I let the actors be themselves, let them find their inner children. Maybe this is the God version of a 'primal scream'. I allow the actors to unload for a moment. My shoots have two themes: 1) looking grumpy and slightly annoyed and 2) looking silly. I try to cover both sides of the coin."

Robert De Niro

Back in his first shot of Stephen Fry, Andy was only given a 90-second window to prove that he had it just as much as a photography student. The actor was a guest at his university, and in the final installment of "Do You Have Any Questions?" young Andy Gotts asks if he can take his portrait. Since then, his photographic art has taken off, as he tells us, "In the three decades I've been taking pictures, the 'wrangling' with celebrities has changed a lot. In 1990, when I was 19, I had my very first encounter with actor Stephen Fry, who loved my shots of him. He particularly liked one of the pictures and asked me to make a print. He proudly hung this photo in his house and the following weekend a friend came over for Sunday dinner. He asked about the photographer and was interested because he also needed a portrait. Fortunately for me, it was the British actor Kenneth Branagh, who then asked me to take a photo of him and his wife at the time, the also very successful actress Emma Thompson. Of course, I didn't miss out on this assignment. From then on, word got around in the acting scene. Today, things have changed and actors come to me."

Olivia Colman
Meryl Streep

The name Andy Gotts is now an indispensable part of the Hollywood world. He is one of the most sought-after celebrity photographers and many come to London especially to see him. "I don't like shooting in traditional photo studios as they are too gloomy and clinical. I use a beautiful hotel in London, the Flemings, as my studio and have been for 8 years. Sometimes I travel to the stars' homes if they want me to. The actors like my style, and I think that's one reason they take me into their hearts. It's an intimate experience, almost like a dance. I'm also the only celebrity photographer who doesn't edit the final images. That's what makes my portraits so special. "

Andy tells me that he really doesn't do any retouching at all. He leaves every wrinkle, birthmark, and skin feature exactly as his camera captures it. We don't really know starlets that way. The internet and magazines thrive on smoothing everything out. A phenomenon so widespread and enormously important to many that even every cell phone photo and video is given the appropriate filter and edited. After all, no one should see tired eyes or skin blemishes.

When he had actress Scarlett Johansson in front of his lens and noticed a small pimple on her face, he asked her if she might like to shoot another day. He warned her that he would not do any photo editing. She was amused by this and said she was with him for that very reason. She wants to show herself real. She wants to be portrayed authentically and if there is a pimple on her face…so what? Then that's the way it is. Isn't that the way it is with every person?

Ian Mckellen amp; Patrick Stewart

True, these are shots of famous people who have built their professions as actors, musicians, models amp; Co. as their appearance to the world. But the photographer does not show this image. He shows the person, he focuses on the person. His profession, status and what the person wears disappears and becomes unimportant. Andy's art and talent is the exact moment he pulls the trigger and captures the shot, as there is no repolishing. He gives each person he photographs a moment of freedom. They are allowed to be exactly the person they are. They are allowed to be crazy, stick their tongue out, roll their eyes, scream loudly, flip their hair and laugh themselves slack-jawed. This serenity brings the humor into his photos.

The attitude and practice of the authenticity-giving photographer again brings a kind of humor itself. In a way, he pokes fun at the culture of the "perfect portrait" by pulling off his analog style. All without the perfectionism common in the beauty world. His images are probably the true "perfect portraits" that are much closer to reality. Andy's work also made it into many magazines and was celebrated in a big way on numerous covers. They are honest. The experience of a photo shoot with Andy is described by the stars as fun, funny and very entertaining. And at the same time, very short-lived. Or maybe it just felt so short because time flies faster when you're having fun?

More about Andy Gotts:


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