Thanks to the media, we become very familiar with celebrities. We feel like we’ve known some of them practically all our lives. But people change–and there is no factor for a person’s transformation as effective as fame. Just like the rest of us, Hollywood royalty as we know them today were different people when standing on the edge of stardom.
That’s not the only thing that’s changed over the years: photo retouching and enhancing capabilities have soared and so has the business of cosmetic surgery. The photographs of big personalities we see on today’s billboards, magazines and websites have undergone alterations in so many ways, applied either on Photoshop or the subject’s own physical features.
This is why London-based photographer Johnny Rozsa‘s portrait compilation of 115 stars on the cusp of fame strikes us with such precious intensity. All taken during the 80’s, the book is titled Untouched and its pages are graced with the younger versions of celebrities such as Leigh Bowery, Mariah Carey, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Idol, John Malkovich, Winona Ryder, Nicholas Cage, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Janet Jackson, Boy George, Rupert Everett, Darryl Hannah and Kiefer Sutherland. The difference is, they don’t wear the perfected masks celebrities are able to don today.
According to Johnny Rozsa, the creation of “Untouched” was inspired by the works of George Hurrell, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and David Bailey. The honesty of each truly untouched image, coupled with the fresh faces of amaranthine fame we know so well, makes Johnny Rozsa’s monogram an instant-classic. He captures people’s vitality and early potential so well it is almost tangible on the page. And something about seeing an old photograph of a person, when you know who they become in later years, is incredibly thought-provoking and sentimental. Actress Susan Sarandon provides her own commentary, and slipped in between the portraits are translucent pages with words about Johnny Rozsa’s own experiences photographing the rising stars.
“It was a different time then. We were a community of artists working together,” says Johnny Rozsa. “Now they march in armed with a publicist agent and manager who act like the creative directors, and use the photographer just as a technician. Back then, it was work between friends. Shoots were fun! Excitement! Nervous tension! What if a celebrity walked into my studio and was a total bore? What if they only gave me 3o minutes? Often I photographed well-known actors wearing the latest threads of the day for a magazine spread. Most times, it was in conjunction with a movie or album that they were promoting. People needed me as much as I needed them, so collaborations were mutually rewarding.”
Published by Glitterati Incorporated, Untouched is a hardcover book with 208 pages and 189 full color photographs. It is set for release in Spring 2014–mark your calendar!
Johnny Rozsa is a celebrated editorial photographer. He was born in Nairobi, Kenya and was educated at Repton, an all-boys public school in England. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Vogue, the Sunday Times and Ritz. Mr. Rozsa divides his time between New York, London and Tangier, Morocco.