Everyone who knew James Byron Dean in real life called him Jimmy; the diminutive was quite apt because he was small in stature. He would be referred to as “boy” and “kid” all his short life. At a crucial point he realised that if he grew himself a tall quiff, left the glasses off and pouted a little, he could look really photogenic. He also realised something else; through a camera lens nobody need look small.
Once he had fashioned himself in his new matinée boy image, Dean fell in love with it. He learned to do sexy things with cigarettes, rolling them along the lips of his half-open mouth, looking up at the viewer from under his eyebrows or slouching crotch forward, broodingly.
For the next five years he was seldom far from a camera; if there was no one else to photograph him, he photographed himself. Usually the camera was held by another man, not always a professional.
This has left us with a surprisingly modern album of photos; some of them looking like they were took yesterday by an Instagram star.
Thank you Jimmy for your legacy!