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The famous photographer who refuses to the icons of the Photoshop movie

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written by Megan C. Hills, CNN

Acclaimed photographer Andy Gotts has captured a host of stars, from Hollywood titans Al Pacino, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts to talented newcomers like Anya Taylor-Joy and Nathalie Emmanuel. But one image stands out as the most poignant of his career: a portrait of the late Tony Curtis, his face painted with an American flag.

The British photographer recalled the years when he asked the actor’s agent to prepare the shoot. After several rejections, he gets Curtis’ wife’s phone number, which he picks up. The shooting was arranged the next day.

However, that night Curtis called Gotts. The aging star, who was suffering from various health problems and was currently in a wheelchair, said she was feeling sick.

“(He said): “I don’t feel well at all. But tomorrow I will honor my commitment, if you promise me,” Gotts said in a video interview. I said, ‘Anything, anything.’

“He said, ‘Will you make me look like an icon again?’ And I said I’ll do my best.”

Tony Curtis for Andy Gotts

Tony Curtis for Andy Gotts Credit: Andy Gotts

It was the last photo Curtis ever captured, according to Gotts, who said the actor saw the photo hours before his death and called it “the best photo I’ve ever seen.” Characteristic of Gotts’ quiet, shadowy style, the image sees a glint in the actor’s eyes as he watches his face painted.
The photo is among dozens of celebrity portraits that appear in Gotts’ new exhibition “Icons,” now open in London, and is accompanied by a book of the same name. In a career spanning three decades, the photographer has become a celebrity favorite for his distinctive style and understated photo shoots.
Photo of Harrison Ford by renowned photographer Andy Gotts.

Photo of Harrison Ford by renowned photographer Andy Gotts. Credit: Andy Gotts

With lighting inspired by art history’s old masters like Caravaggio and Rembrandt, as well as film characters like Alfred Hitchcock and David Lean, Gotts works with an analog camera and no equipment. Their portraits are never retouched, revealing the actors’ “facial scenes” with all their wrinkles, blemishes and smiles. It’s a style that hasn’t changed much since its inception.

“If you see a thorn in someone’s head or hair out of place, it’s because they were sitting in front of me,” he said. “I was capturing the moment he sat down with me in our conversation.”

On Gotts’ shoulder is a burning portrait of Kate Moss with glowing skin: piercings, fine lines and all. He revealed that stars such as Kate Winslet, Naomi Campbell and Sir Ian McKellen have adopted his candid style, but his aversion to retouching photos in Photoshop has been a problem for some.

One of Gotts' portraits of supermodel Kate Moss.

One of Gotts’ portraits of supermodel Kate Moss. Credit: Andy Gotts

“These are two famous singers, probably the greatest in the world, who both said to me, ‘Andy, I love your photography (and) I’m your photography, but you…

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