An afternoon with Benedict Cumberbatch
Celebrities spend a notable portion of their time with photographers. They spend this allotted time in front of a camera, choosing how much they reveal of themselves, posing, not posing, indulging requests, refusing them… Then they go away, often leaving a lasting impression on the photographer. Which begs the question, how much of an impression can a photographer leave on a celebrity? It would be easy to leave a bad one, just be an arsehole. But to leave a lasting positive impression before anyone even sees the photos, how often does that happen?
I am not flamboyant, loud, boisterous, camp or crass. I possess few of the imagined stereotypical celebrity photographer qualities. I am polite, patient, anxious in the beginning, more confident as the shoot goes on, witty if I get lucky and I like to talk to my subject. Not just asking them questions, like some kind of bonus interview, but talking about myself too, so it’s a normal conversation between two normal people. I don’t give enormous amounts of direction when making portraiture. I wait, I nudge, I wait some more, I suggest, I keep waiting until ‘the photograph appears’. Sometimes I take pictures to fill the time waiting for ‘the photograph’ and sometimes those pictures work, but most of the time I know when I have got the shot I’ve waited for before looking at the back of the camera, or seeing the contact sheets. In this case, with Benedict, I shot entirely on film.
I don’t want to exaggerate, I’m sure my assistant would tell you that to him and anyone else on the shoot observing, there were no remarkable exchanges between myself and Mr Cumberbatch. At one point I told him he was being ‘too sexy’ - I think he’d undone some buttons on his shirt - and that became sort of a running joke for the rest of the shoot, but I’m probably romanticising. Even so, it sticks in my mind, begging embellishment with each retelling.
It’s intimidating, in truth, to talk to someone who’s very personality has catapulted them to international stardom. I didn’t achieve some small success in photography because I’m hilarious, brilliant, witty or charming, I got to where I am because of my ‘eye’ (and to an arguably larger extent, my business strategy). Whether or not I did a good job doesn’t become evident until much later on, after the shoot has finished and everyone has gone home. Benedict on the other hand, is required to exude charisma at all times, the nature of his talent means it is instantaneously evident, judged live. To photograph someone with his strength of character is to strive frantically to capture a portion of it. Even if you only manage half a second, that’s all you need, such is the immortality of a still image.
I’ve had a lot of excellent feedback on the story for OUT magazine, most notably from Benedict’s devoted fan-base, who arguably know him best of all, being followers of everything he does, every photo, every interview, chat show appearance and the like. Still I don’t know what Benedict himself thinks of the pictures, or me as a person for that matter, and am unlikely to ever find out, at least directly.
All I can say with absolute certainty about my time with Sherlock, Smaug, Julian, Alan, Khan, is that it never felt awkward or uncomfortable, I spent most of it smiling, a handful of it laughing, and whether I made any sort of impression on him or not, I am eternally thankful that he happened to be my first cover.
Q:....but what if Benedict made me sad? (re: girlfriend rumors)
Okay, so, I’ve been thinking about how to answer this for awhile, and I think I’ve come up with an answer. Ready?
It’s perfectly okay to be a little sad if Benedict Cumberbatch has a girlfriend.
You are going to come across lots of posts that tell you otherwise: that people are so happy he’s finally found love! And how handsome he’ll look in a tux at his wedding! And omg babieeeess!!!! And you’ll start to think “oh my god there is something seriously wrong with me that I’m sad about this.”
But I’m here to tell you: a good 98% of those people are also a little sad. Maybe not on the surface, and they are genuinely happy for him, but deep deep down, somewhere in a little piece of buried psyche that we all have, they’re a little heartbroken. Even people who are older and “know better,” and people who are happily married will be a little sad. Why?
We’re humans. Attraction and desire and emotion are part of what makes us human. You can’t stop it from happening sometimes, even when it’s illogical. It’s called having a crush, we’ve all had them, and they are a form of love, no matter what psych 101 text books tell you. A basic sort of not-completely-formed love, but love nonetheless: crushes are training wheels for LOVE love. And when that love is denied, either when you find out that cute guy at Starbucks that you’ve been making flirty-eyes with for two weeks is married or a celebrity that you adore gets a girlfriend, you get sad. Because you’re human and have the ability to be disappointed. Geez, there’s still a teeny tiny little piece of me somewhere in my brain that’s a little sad that my high school boyfriend broke up with me- even though I know now that he’s gay. Illogical, but human nature makes us not like being basically told Sherlock’s “not you”.
Here’s where we get heavy: it’s HOW you handle that sadness and accept it that matters. Go ahead and be a little grumpy and mope with your friends, that’s cool. Unfollow BC related blogs and ditch your STiD dvd. But please. Please, please, please, please: do NOT act aggressive towards whomever this supposed girlfriend is. Don’t post disparaging comments about her if photos come out, don’t hunt her down at events and give her the stinkeye, don’t stalk her on the internet. That’s just dumb and makes all his fans look bad. Remember the old adage: “If you can’t say something nice don’t say it at all.” (At the same time, don’t feel the need to oooh and ahh and constantly complement her either if you don’t want to. That’s just a personal bit of advice from me, because UGH: syncophants are the worst in my opinion.)
I’m not going to tell you “Oh, don’t be silly, it’s just a crush, it’s not REAL love” because trust me: you will have PLENTY of time to worry about “real” love in your life, so live in the now and if you want to worry about this, go right ahead. So, that’s my advice. Long and rambling, but I hope it makes sense. In a nutshell: You go right ahead and get your sad on, even if it feels or sounds like no one else is. You are not alone, you are human, and allowed to have unpopular feelings.
I’ve been asked to post this again, so… here you go.
Everything is going to be okay, I promise.
As long as the ideas are still there and the audience still wants it and as long as Martin and I are not so infirm that we can no longer remember the lines and shuffle around the set, I’d love to do it into old age, I really would.
His fucking body and his fucking smirk will be the death of me one day…
i need this more than ever.
Don’t be fucking smirking, you baby-faced little sexbomb.
That smirk though 😍😍
Where is this from
Oh Christ those wet thighs …..
He has the best legs…
Need stills of these like air