Since his tragic death, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s image has fluttered on and off of our computer screens more times than we can count. How might we chose a single photograph that captures the weight of artistic talent that influenced and moved our culture? A few short weeks ago, Hoffman sat for the photographer Victoria Will (a BUST Magazine contributor) at the Sundance film festival, and her photograph might just be that special-- if sorrowful-- one that affords him a sensitive dignity that resonates with fans and friends.
The photograph, which might well be the last portrait the star sat for, is unusual for Will’s choice to use tintype, a photographic process popular in the mid-1800s. As part of the artist’s series of celebrity tintypes, this fateful image recalls the work of Moyra Davey, a photographer who wrote on the power of accidents in the medium.
As the artist positions Hoffman behind a reverent lens, the prolific subject himself becomes elevated by the sheer amount of work needed to produce the image, which harkens back to an era when people treasured the photograph of a loved one and maybe only sat for one shot throughout a lifetime. With the artist’s hand ever-present in the crinkled emulsion and subtle and unintentional chemical happenings, will this be the image we remember? It is with the greatest reverence that we mourn for one of the greatest creative thinkers of our time.
Thanks to 22 Words
Image via 22 Words