See It Now: Making Faces with Celebrity Photographer Andy Gotts

By David Schonauer   Monday September 27, 2021

British photographer Andy Gotts shoots celebrities.

But he does it a little differently from most other photographers.

His distinctive style — he’s known for grainy, black-and-white photos lit dramatically — and his low-key shoots have made him a favorite with the likes of Ian McKellen, Harrison Ford, Kate Winslet and others, noted CNN recently, even though he says he refuses to Photoshop the icons he photographs.

“With lighting inspired by art history's Old Masters such as Caravaggio and Rembrandt, as well as cinema greats like Alfred Hitchcock and David Lean, Gotts works with an analog camera and no crew. His portraits are never retouched, unveiling actors' ‘facescapes’ with all their wrinkles, blemishes and smiles. It's a style that has remain largely unchanged since he first started,” noted CNN.

"If you see a pimple on someone's head, or a hair out of place – that's because that's how they were, sitting in front of me," Gotts told CNN. "I was capturing that moment when they sat down with me for our conversation.”

 Gotts's work is now being featured in an exhibition at the Maddox Gallery in London and in a new book.

“Starting his career as a portrait photographer in 1990 following a serendipitous encounter with [British actor] Stephen Fry, Andy Gotts MBE is revered for his ability to capture portraits that feel as intimate as they are revealing, taking simple yet powerful photographs that depict the person behind the persona,” notes the Maddox Gallery.

“Highlighting the irony that we routinely take people whose beauty is their livelihood and airbrush them beyond recognition, Andy has a fierce loyalty to realism and refrains from editing his photos in the post-production process that we are now so accustomed to,” adds the gallery.

Since he got his start in the 1990s, Gotts has photographed stars like Winslet and Al Pacino, musicians including Elton John, and supermodels like Naomi Campbell, noted Barron’s recently.

Gotts was once assistant to famed photographers Lord Snowdon and David Bailey, though the experience had an unexpected impact: It showed him exactly what kind of photographer he didn't want to be, notes CNN

"If you think back to the late '80s and '90s, lots of portraits had glamorous backgrounds and were very ostentatious," he said. Gotts opted to avoid that kind of glamour photography, preferring ’60s-inspired plain backgrounds, which, he says, had "fallen out of favor" at the time.

He also chose to avoid working with a big crew. "I thought to myself, 'When I do this, it will just be me, no assistants. And I'll be really, really quick. So that was my idea when I started: quickness," he says. His way of working earned him a nickname coined by Paul Newman: “One-Shot Gotts.”


  1. David Warren commented on: September 27, 2021 at 1:09 p.m.
    just in case you were thinking of rushing down to the Maddox gallery, the exhibition finished on September 19th :-(

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