A Guide To Photographing Celebrities
Without fluffing our tail feathers too much, we’ve had the honour of photographing a number of celebrities, particularly in the sports photography arena. As great as it sounds, it does come with many a challenge and can be a somewhat daunting task if you’re particularly starstruck. You want to make these already famous people look as dashing, glamorous or beautiful as you can, but you’ve also got to maintain your perspective.
We spoke to Gareth Gilmour, our very own pro photographer and asked him how he’s managed to keep his cool in the face of a number of celebrity shoots. He said it all comes down to your approach and a professional attitude.
A Professional Photographer’s Approach
Working with people that are accustomed to the limelight can be a lot easier than those that are new to all the “lights, camera and action.” They generally understand the process and take instructions very well, but this is only provided that you know what you want and can guide them effectively.
In the words of Gareth Gilmour: “When shooting people, whether it’s my mother or a world leader, I have a similar approach. I like to start with a brief chat where I can create a personal and welcoming space, and I can also let the person know exactly what we’re about to do.”
“It has been my experience that the more informed they are on the process, and the more sure you are of your end goal, the more on board and relaxed your subject will be.”
Achieving a relaxed and professional environment is all up to the photographer and without this your images look forced and stiff. In order to draw out the unique expression or pose – known as “the decisive moment” (a term coined by Henri Cartier-Bresson) – you need to be confident in your abilities. It’s no different to how a doctor would approach a clinical consultation. As a patient, you would be very uncertain of your doctor’s capabilities if he or she was unable to articulate a diagnosis or a plan of action.
Research Your Subject
If you’re not already familiar with your subject, take some time to find out more about them so that you’ve got some common ground to work with. This can also translate well into the creative output. Do a Google search, get some facts and gain and understanding of your subject’s likes and dislikes from the get go.
Professional people, world leaders and celebrities alike have hectic diaries and so as a professional, it’s imperative to be prepared, set up and ready to shoot when your subject arrives. That “decisive moment” you were hoping to achieve could be lost forever if you are not prepared and ready for their moment on your stage.
By being punctual and organised, you can easily back up your photographic abilities with a professional attitude that will be both respected and appreciated. This will also help you get the best out of your subject. Also pack more equipment than you might need in case circumstances or ideas change. Factor in traffic jams and unforeseen events so that you’re not suddenly placed under pressure to perform with limited time or facilities.
Create a Space of Comfort
You are ultimately going to set the scene for your subject and you will need to lead the process. It’s important to be a source of positive energy and encouragement so that your subject can feel at ease in your presence. Allow them to relax, allow them to feel free from intimidation and let them unravel before you start snapping your shots. After all, you are searching for their personal essence and you want that to come through in your photographs in order for them to make an impact.