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Tony Blair's photo: Caught off guard in his favourite blue shirt

The photograph of Tony Blair taken for the Guardian yesterday caught the former prime minister unawares

His mouth is gaping, his grey eyes wide open, his eyebrows raised in synchronised shock. In the picture accompanying his interview in yesterday's Guardian, Tony Blair looks like a cross between an effete rabbit caught blinking in the headlights, and a duelling cowboy who's been beaten to the draw.

Actually, the surprise is genuine, and Blair's stance is far less of a pose than you might think, according to David Levene, the Guardian photographer who took the picture.

"I'd just changed my lighting setup," explains Levene, "and I'd told him that I was 'just doing a few tests, just seeing how the lights work'".

In fact Levene was busily snapping away. "At that point he was just listening to me, he wasn't posing. And these are the moments you really strive for." It was a rare flicker of facial candour from Blair. "He wanted to put out a certain image of himself, so in the rest of the shoot he's looking very earnest, very downbeat. It was very difficult to get him to do anything else," says Levene.

And while Blair's oft-used creaseless, linen blue shirt looks ludicrously over-ironed, for Levene, it was a wardrobe choice from heaven. "The blue colour, combined with the grey background, did help lift his skin-tones. I'd been worried he'd come in a suit and tie." © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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