PDN has expanded its feature on celebrity portraiture, in the December issue, online and asked a variety of photographers to answer questions like “What is the most challenging situation you’ve ever had to deal with while photographing a celebrity and what did you do to get the shot?”
The shooters they spoke to include Chris Buck, Emily Shur, Peter Freed, and Joseph Cultice, who recalls photographing Ozzie Osbourne as Satan for the cover of Revolver magazine. I was the managing editor at Revolver at the time and was at that shoot, and I remember how frail Ozzy seemed. He sat in a beautiful black suit (the bag the suit came from said Chanel) in a “throne” that had been set up for the concept, hunched, waiting for Joseph’s commands. But when those commands came, it was startling how quickly he could reinhabit that powerful, off-the-rails persona he’d cultivated over the years. In a flash, he became the Prince of Darkness once again. But not before spitting his gum into the waiting palm of his mild-mannered assistant.
PDN also spoke to Kwaku Alston, who recently shot the Jacksons for A&E. Here, Kwaku tells the magazine about photographing President Obama:
“Certain things were challenging for me personally because of the pressure I put on myself as an image maker. Take for example photographing Barack Obama. I wanted to see this guy succeed for my own personal reasons, and I felt a lot of pressure to make an iconic picture because this could possibly be the next president and I might not get the chance again. I wanted my personal vision expressed and seen. I felt like I was doing something for history.
“One photo was backlit, because I didn’t want to show his race. I wanted to show the power and character and strength of him through his profile and when you bring race into it, you bring everyone’s baggage into their reading of the photo. It was a challenge to show the dignity and pride of the man and this kind of JFK spirit, and when you bring race into it, you bring everyone’s baggage into their reading of that photo. That was challenging for me because it was about some of the things I had to deal with in my own career.”
PDN will be posting another installment of “Inside the Celebrity Portrait: Getting the Shot” this week, they say. You can read the current installment here.
Also worth checking out is Stella Kramer’s interview with celebrity photographer Brian Ach. An excerpt:
Tell us a great celebrity story—good or bad.
I was working a private party for Wire, a while ago.It was a big event, with many a-listers. I was working inside, and then a certain teenage tabloid queen entered and was whisked straight back to the back, to a private table. PR came up to me and said it would be a bit before she would do photos. After a half hour, he came to get me and bring me back to her table. He got my attention, and said, “Only this” (indicating from the waist up) “and none of this” (indicating the table in front of her). I looked down and saw all types of alcohol and illicit contraband sprawled out on the table. I had a 17mm lens on my camera, so I could have gotten it all in the frame. However, I was house, and it was exclusive, so they would have known it was me even if I did somehow sell it under the table. She stood up and posed, I took three frames, and she sat down. The PR guy checked my photos on my camera to make sure they were ok, as I saw $100,000 flitter through my hands.
Read the rest here.