Art Streiber on photographing the stars of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” for Wired’s 5-cover (or is it 15-cover?) April issue

Not only are the five stars of HBO’s hit original series Silicon Valley featured in Wired’s April cover story, “How to Succeed in Comedy (by Really, Really Trying),” each one of them has his own cover—and, in a meta twist, appears in a group shot of the cast that also appears on the cover, and is featured on a second cover published within the story itself. Confused? We’ll let Art Streiber, who masterfully executed the shoot, explain…

It’s always a pleasure and a creative thrill ride to work with the team at Wired: director of photography Anna Goldwater, executive creative director Billy Sorrentino, and editor in chief Scott Dadich. With every issue, they pursue cleverness and originality and push me to think way, way outside the box.

For the April issue, we photographed the five cast members of Silicon ValleyKumail Nanjiani, T.J. Miller, Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods, and Martin Starr—creating 15 different covers: the covers themselves, the covers within the covers, and the additional “second” covers that ran with the story.

The logistics of completing 10 single portraits and 10 group shots in two hours were managed perfectly by Wired photo editor Sarah Silberg and my executive producer, Elaine Browne.

We photographed the cast on one of the three sound stages on the Sony lot where the show is shot, in a space directly behind their “living room” set.  

We created a gray set on which we photographed the main, single covers and variations on the group, giving each actor a chance in the middle of the frame and his costars a chance to harass him as he took center stage.

We then created a second set with five different colored seamlessness at the ready—one for each of the group covers within the covers and for the single, “inside” covers. After we finished on the gray seamless, we moved over to the color seamlesses. We shot a group of four of the actors, shot a single of the fifth, tore down the existing color, put up the next color, and repeated the process all over again.

My set designer, Anthony Altomare, had “prelayered” the floor of the seamless set with each of the five different seamlesses, so as we peeled up the top color layer, the next one was revealed and the matching backdrop seamless was wheeled into place.

The color seamless set was lit with a ring light to emulate the look and feel of Wired covers from the ’90s when Wired covers were shockingly colorful and poppy.

What really brought each of the 20 setups to life, however, were the performances of the actors. All five of them came to play and as they riffed off of each other (and Altomare’s hand props), the room got louder and crazier and the imagery got funnier and funnier. At one point, as I photographed Kumail Nanjiani, T.J. Miller was over my shoulder giving Nanjiani so much direction that I invited T.J. to photograph Nanjiani himself—which he did! Is one of T.J.’s shots on the cover of Wired?  Impossible to say…

 

Art Streiber_Silicon Valley_Wired cover 1

Thomas Middleditch. Photo by Art Steiber for Wired, April 2016 issue.

Art Streiber_Silicon Valley_Wired cover 2

T.J. Miller. Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Art Streiber_Silicon Valley_Wired cover 3

Zach Woods. Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Art Streiber_Silicon Valley_Wired cover 4

Kumail Nanjiani. Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Art Streiber_Silicon Valley_Wired cover 5

Martin Starr. Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Art Streiber_Silicon Valley_Wired_orange cover

Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Art Streiber_Silicon Valley_Wired_blue cover

Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Art Streiber_Silicon Valley_Wired_red cover

Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Art Streiber_Silicon Valley_Wired_green cover

Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Art Streiber_Silicon Valley_Wired_yellow cover

Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Art Streiber_Kumail Nanjiani cover

Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Art Streiber_Zach Woods cover

Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Art Streiber_Thomas Middleditch cover

Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Art Streiber_Martin Starr cover

Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

Art Streiber_T.J.Miller cover

Photo by Art Steiber for Wired.

 

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