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The Independent Culture
'SOME people love having their picture taken,' says James Hunkin. 'It's like going to the hairdresser's - all that attention.' But for a photographer who has spent eight years specialising in portraits of theatre people, he follows this up with a strange confession: most actors and actresses are no good at just being themselves in front of a camera. You wouldn't know it from his work: Hunkin's limpid, lucid portrayals are successful enough to hang in the National Portrait Gallery. The fruits of his latest project, a year spent photographing leading members and associates of the National Theatre, are no exception. Particularly revelatory are the portraits of Tom Stoppard - who turns an unambiguously Byronic profile to the camera - and a gentle, perplexed Alan Bennett (right). How does he do it? Hunkin says he's good at tailoring his personality to suit that of his sitter; but he also uses the dance teacher Rudolf Laban's theories of movement to 'read' people physically and gain an insight into their characters. Considering that Laban is one of the gurus of modern theatre, Hunkin obviously tailors his theories to suit his sitters, too. ('In the Wings: Photographs by James F Hunkin', National Theatre, SE1, 071-633 0880, Mon to 6 Aug.)