Art Streiber, master of the group portrait, talks about how he directs his subjects: “I want to make sure that we don’t have two people with the exact same body language. I’m very carefully tweaking and tweaking and tweaking”

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Portrait photographer Art Streiber is known for his masterful approach to photographing groups, whether it’s a cast portrait for a hit TV show or a Paramount Pictures anniversary photo featuring 116 stars, executives, and directors. In a recent interview with The Photographic Journal, Art was asked how he directs multiple people at the same time to produce a compelling group portrait.

“Years ago, one of my best friends who went to USC film school and now does a lot of video production was on my set and said to me, ‘You’re a director.’ And I said, ‘No, I’m not. I’m a photographer.” He said, ‘Trust me, you’re a director.’ And I didn’t know what he meant. Then I realized that’s a really important, powerful thing to keep in mind. That people, especially actors, want and need direction. Because in the absence of lines to recite, a character to inhabit, blocking to work through, and emotions to get through, they are a blank canvas. And they want and need direction. They’re adrift otherwise.

“So when photographing a group,” he continues, “you need to have conflicting macro and micro visions. You have to see the entire space, the entirety of the group, and you have to see every single person in the group as an individual. I want to make sure that we don’t have two people with the exact same body language. That just drives me insane, that two people would have their arms crossed or that two people would have their hands in their pockets. So I’m very carefully tweaking and tweaking and tweaking, and you have to immediately remember all their names. So there’s a piece of paper with everybody’s name on it, and then you’re making sure you don’t leave somebody out. You’re making sure that everybody gets called out, and invariably there’s always one actor who just who isn’t playing, and you’re calling him out over and over again, much to the chagrin of the others. So it’s tough, but it’s fun.”

Read the complete interview here or by clicking on the screenshot above. Below, a selection of Art’s group portraits. See more here.

 

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The cast of “Arrested Development.” Photo by Art Streiber.

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The cast of “Scandal.” Photo by Art Streiber.

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The cast of “The Big Bang Theory.” Photo by Art Streiber.

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The stars of CBS’ comedy lineup. Photo by Art Streiber.

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The cast of “CSI.” Photo by Art Streiber.

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An ad for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority featuring nine top chefs and restaurateurs. Photo by Art Streiber.

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Storm Troopers for a Wired magazine cover story on “Star Wars.” Photo by Art Streiber.

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Paramount Pictures 100th anniversary portrait. Photo by Art Streiber.

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