HiranoAya 平野綾 posted this great photo on her blog over the weekend. I can't resist posting it for others to see.
She took it with her own cell-phone camera after spending the better part of a day getting her hair dyed and styled. She said how much she enjoyed sitting there talking with the stylists and working out what color to use. It ended up being a mix of a number of colors, with a little pink included.
Photos like this, taken at arm's length with her cell-phone, seem to me to show Aya more real than the pro shots where she is posing for the photographer and the staff. In these informal shots, she appears to be more herself.
And that self has been going through a lot recently. The big success of Lucky Star and the Suzumiya Haruhi live event DVD are good things, but they also increase the pressure on her to make the most of her current popularity. And meanwhile she has just spent a week in hospital getting her appendix out, with the otaku "community" outside raging about a supposed relationship with rocker/seiyuu Taniyama Kishou.
In any case, for me, these personal photos show the most attractive Aya: natural, vulnerable, serious, often comic. Here are two more photos from that day, taken by the stylist. Aya was getting her hair done for jacket photos and the PV (music video) of her new single, which will come out in the fall. I've added a photo that a horrified post on 2channel said made her look 35. Lol.