Who Shot It Better? Sebastian Kim vs. Henry Leutwyler: Michael Fassbender

Who Shot It Better? Sebastian Kim vs. Henry Leutwyler: Michael Fassbender

Photography is amazing to me because of its ability to take a very literal medium, and still create an incredible diversity of finished product. In this round, we pit fashion photographer Sebastian Kim against portraitist (and my Tribeca neighbor) Henry Leutwyler and their images of Michael Fassbender, recently snubbed by the Oscars despite his critically acclaimed performance in Shame. I personally thought he was great in X-Men: First Class.

First, let me express some brief disappointment in Sebastian’s search engine optimization. This is what happens when you don’t have a page meta description on a Flash website — you get a message asking you “Get Flash Player now.” Boo. He does, however, get social media props for having a Tumblr account.

But back to the images!

Sebastian took Fassbender’s hotness to the next level by photographing his photo on fire.  The cover of Interview magazine’s February 2012 issue is black and white and gritty. It’s beautifully lit. I love the softer rim light (which arguably might not qualify as rim lighting). Pose is good, and the mottling of the skin fits the interpretation.

Henry Leutwyler’s image from Vogue is kinder and gentler. I love the feathering of the light (reminds me of Dan Winters), and even though the image is obviously retouched, the skin detail still has good texture.

Verdict: Leutwyler. I give big props to Kim for the creativity, but I’m gonna side with my boy, Henry for the more sensitive portrait.

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter. He co-hosts the “I Love Photography” podcast on iTunes.

There are 11 comments for this article
  1. Collette Alyson at 1:24 pm

    If senstive is what you’re looking for, I agree Kim gets it, ubt me, I’m all about the gritty so my vote goes to Sebastian

  2. Badger at 9:47 pm

    Henry Leutwyler?
    Henry hasn’t created a unique or original image that hasn’t required his hiring a good photo assistant in years.
    Proof of that is the above image which is nothing more than what he has been regurgitating for the last 15 years.
    A single whit umbrella off camera left, 7 foot elevation (cause Henry is kind of on the short side and can’t reach much higher) and the light 45 degrees off axis to the photographer. Talk about formula.
    Now go into Photoshop and burn in the darkened ‘halo like’ look, retouch the crap out of the skin, so that Michael looks like a metro-sexual, and you’ve got the above image.
    Nothing that any 1st year F.I.T. student could not do, or do better.

    stick to running your business and leave the photo editing to those that actually know something about photography and photo history.

  3. Robert at 6:26 am

    Just photo to photo, I prefer the top one (check the smoke ringing the eye) because it’s more than just a portrait. It has a story, which to me fits an actor’s job. But can you really answer the question without knowing the tone of the article the photo is for and the audience?

  4. henry Leutwyler at 6:01 pm

    Dear Badger,
    You sound like one of the assistants that was not up for the job and we had unfortunately to let go… I think I know who you are…
    For the sake of the argument, not a white umbrella, but simply one octabank and regarding the elevation, it is in relation to the subject… please consult the tech book more accurately.
    Henry Leutwyler

  5. Valentino Antonio at 12:14 pm

    This is an old blog post, but . . .

    I am surprised that the question of “who shot it better?” is even asked! Art is not meant to convey ‘what is better’, but rather what you feel when looking at a particular image, in this case. They are so different that you cannot ask who shot it better, since they are both such fine examples! It is more so about what type of image do you like and if you can appreciate the simplicity and the manipulation of each one.

    Leutwyler’s image, for me, is so clean and proper, while Kim’s is perfectly gritty and artistic. . . it’s a question of whether you like the flames at the bottom, though, and the skin color, etc. Such an image begs these questions, while Leutwyler’s is simply a great portrait, and well lit to, so that it is difficult to negate any aspects of it (less open to opinion due to the clean, proper portrait.

    Even though I love manipulating images in Photoshop, I must say that a simple clean and well lit portrait is, for me, tells so much more, since it does not rely on the artistic impressions of the photographer/editor to convey a alternate view of things. I love them both.

  6. Jon Wilhelmsen at 10:00 pm

    I’d give my vote to Kim also, except… ditch the amateurish flames. Totally detracts from the image. The smoke is enough to show him ‘on fire’. For Leutwyler’s image – like it also, but with a little less vignetting. Nothing wrong with classic portraiture, especially when it captures such quiet emotion. By the way, working on transitioning an old flash site to Photoshelter. Can’t wait to get it live.

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