Working as a character artist and photographer for the Walt Disney company for 18 years, Ryan Astamendi grew up being totally inspired by Disney animations, and in his youth he was tutored by some of Disney’s animators. Learning about him you discover that from a very early age he always knew he wanted to become involved in art and that he would pursue it as a career. After majoring in Character Animation at CalArts, Astamendi joined Disney where he honed his artistic skills. However it was while at Disney he also became involved in photography, an artistic medium he took to with ease. Ryan’s website says “Using his formal art training, he incorporates the same principles of color, lighting and composition into his photography.” Once you start to look at some of his photographic recreations you will begin to understand exactly what he means.
We have chosen 7 of Astamendi’s ‘portraits’ and while we think we know most of the characters, we may need your help. For sure Snow White is easily detectable, and how remarkable the likeness between the character and real life model are is uncanny. We also love Pocohontas and wonder if Astamendi knew the moment he set eyes on the real-life character that she was ‘the one’. We think Skyler Vallo looks stunning as Rapunzel, and there is even a bit of a fairy tale behind the photo. As told in Maxim: “When photographer Ryan Astamendi saw Skyler Vallo’s ModelMayhem profile, he knew he had found the perfect Rapunzel for his “Real-life Disney princesses” series. Only after inviting the Roanoke native to pose did he learn she was already playing the long-haired heroine at Disneyworld.” Sleeping Beauty looks wide awake to us, but once again there is definitely a very strong similarity between cartoon and real-life versions. Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast all in yellow looks stunning in both forms, and if you want to know how she got her name, the original story comes from France and was called la Belle et la Bête. Princes Jasmine from Aladdin in the jade-blue two-piece looks beautifully calm and serene, almost the antithesis of one of Disney’s more voluptuous characters, Jessica Rabbit, from the mixed real life/animated film Who framed Roger Rabbit. In fact Jessica Rabbit was named in a 2009 survey as the sexiest cartoon character ever created. Looking at both pictures, it is hard to disagree.