Paging: Tom Munro’s Most Famous Players

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Published May 24, 2010

An alternative title for photographer Tom Munro’s first, eponymous book could be borrowed from an Avedon volume: Performance. Chock-full of Hollywood A-listers—Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Hugh Jackman, to name just a few—Munro’s images exude larger-than-life charisma. Though he has a resume steeped in fashion photography, with some of the most prestigious magazines and clients to his credit, the book passes over these images, focusing on the mysterious and beguiling, classic and tabloid-y genre of celebrity photography.

What sets Munro’s pictures apart from an endless flood of celebrity imagery is his ability to communicate the joy his subjects take in being captured, while still maintaining a distance. These photographs have nothing to do with getting personal; they are of famous people at their most famous, and their most dissembling. Thumbing through the images, you bounce  between high-energy location pictures and more traditional studio portraits, the latter providing a much-needed breather amidst an exhausting body of work. The commonality, however, is that everyone plays for Munro—Dustin Hoffman fully clothed in a pool with a snorkel mask, Brooke Shields with her vast mane of hair covering her face, topped off with glasses to resemble Cousin It, Owen Wilson shot incognito. As Madonna, who serves as both cover girl and foreword author, says, Munro makes his subjects look “foxy!” Enough said.