Who Shot it Better? Katie Holmes: Carter Smith vs. Richard Bailey

Who Shot it Better? Katie Holmes: Carter Smith vs. Richard Bailey

My favorite magazine cover comparisons occur when the same magazine features the same subject. And how opportune for Elle to feature recent divorcee Katie Holmes on their August 2012 cover. Just say no to Scientology, Katie! Ok, let’s take a look.

Carter Smith shot this cover image feature Katie with hair extensions and wearing some of her own clothing line (the suspenders are Holmes & Yang), and well, if there’s one thing I hate, it’s a portrait that doesn’t resemble the subject. I don’t have a problem with people playing dress up for a photo shoot, but if someone didn’t tell me this was Katie, I wouldn’t have known. What can we say about the photo — well, it’s well lit against white seamless. There some nice sculpting of the cheeks, but given the brightness of the image, it’s more likely due to the retouching.

Richard Bailey (who passed away in 2010 of cancer) shot this image of Katie in 2009. Same white seamless background, but the light is off axis, and gives a more shadow and sculpting. Katie’s skin and eyes are photoshopped to hell, but she has a cute little smirk on her face that seems to be more in line with her personality.

I know what you’re thinking, once again, it’s not so much the photography as the styling, and I wouldn’t disagree, so let’s take a look at some of the inner pages to compare the photography.

Carter’s fashion pic of Katie wearing more of her eponymous clothing line, and look, she has the little Katie Holmes smirk. I like the lighting. Her skin stands out against the gray background, and contrasted against the darker clothing and hair. Nice shoes, Katie.

Richard’s image, once again, has more of a sculpted look. She doesn’t have her smirk, but she does have those puppy dog eyes, and it feels more like an intimate portrait rather than a fashion image.

The verdict: Elle has their formula for cover art as many magazines do, so I get that there isn’t going to be much deviation from the white seamless. But I find Carter’s lighting to be uninspired for this shoot, and I’m not loving the styling either. The win goes to Richard Bailey. RIP brother.

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 5 comments for this article
  1. Albert Goodman at 10:55 am

    i agree with the aesthetic assessment whole heartedly but maybe 3 years of Cruise control yielded a harsher, less innocent woman. Is it possible both photographers captured what was there and we just prefer the innocence?

  2. Minnie at 7:56 pm

    Katie does look different in her photos from 2009. The photography made her look vulnerable, which is why I agree with you when you said that her second pic from Elle´s 2009 issue. Now; I can see teh importance of lighting when it comes to taking photos. I have underplayed it´s use as a new photographer.

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