3 February 2014
I went to the Esquire site to read an article about Philip Seymour Hoffman — because I’m crushed that he died as well as how he died — and stumbled onto this series of photographs.
Only a few photographers use this ancient method anymore. The tintype became popular during the 1860s as a cheap and comparatively quick way to take photographs (think a 19th-c. version of the Polaroid). And if you’re familiar at all with eerie 19th-c. portrait photography, as you look at them you won’t be surprised by the strange beauty you find there.
What you will find is mostly a bunch of very young and very beautiful actors, of course. But when the photographer turns to older actors (Glenn Close, Willem Dafoe, PSH), the images get a lot more interesting.
So let yourself enjoy some of Hollywood’s faces as we rarely see them. It’s as if the chemical process of developing the plate finds a way to caress, and get stuck in, the wrinkles and cotton shirts and unusual mouths and leather jackets of these people. The camera especially loves grey hair and light-colored eyes, because the light gets lost there and turns the image into a haunted house.
Oh, PSH, you’re gone too soon.