Who Shot It Better? Ed Sheeran: Norman Jean Roy vs Ben Watts

Who Shot It Better? Ed Sheeran: Norman Jean Roy vs Ben Watts

Ed Sheeran is a helluva a singer/songwriter with hits like “Thinking Out Loud” and “Shape of You.” Forbes also reported that Sheeran made $57 million in 2015. But let’s be honest: he’s not the best-looking bloke in the music business, which can be a challenge for anyone trying to photograph him in a visual age where talent often takes a backseat to looks. So how do you portray an average looking dude as the top selling artist that he is?

For the March 2017 issue, British GQ hired Norman Jean Roy to photograph Sheeran. Here’s a great little interview and BTS video with Roy.

And here’s the cover:

Ed Sheeran photographed by Norman Jean Roy for British GQ

And my question to you is why did the photo editor pick the most boring photo of the lot? Look at this photo of the guitar on fire!

Ed Sheeran's guitar is on fire!

Ok, so it’s in landscape. What about this one? Pop that collar, Ed!

Ed Sheeran is not Batman.

A year earlier, Suffolk Norfolk Life – a regional magazine from the east of England, and Sheeran’s hometown – did a cover feature using a publicity image by Ben Watts for Atlantic Records.

This is a lovely image. Simple one light set-up shot against a wall with really nice dimensionality (athough if I have to nitpick, I think the shadow under his chin is a little distracting). There’s a slight bluish cast, but a great image and the magazine only costs £2.50!

This is a good example of poor editing in my opinion. The GQ cover is safe – and surely the publisher believed that this image would do better on the newsstands. But this column is about photography, not selling magazines! So as far as the cover images are concerned, I’m going with Ben Watts. 

What do you think?

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

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