Looking back on over 25 years in the photo business, and still counting, my memories often flip between thousands of captured moments in black and white and then back to the same strange world in color. For over a decade of my career I was living and working in Los Angeles, California, taking photos of celebrities and most often on the red carpet.
From that description you might think I was one of the paparazzi, those obnoxious stalkers of famous people photos. I may have stood side by side with some of the paparazzi during my time on the red carpet, but I was hunting for a very different type of image.
It started back in March 1992 when I was hired as a runway photographer for that years Academy Awards. As someone who enjoys shooting people, I have always valued the subtleties of any shoot. To get the best results, you must pay attention to all the details; the styling of clothes and hair, the make up, the weather and angles of light wherever they are coming from and the various facial expressions of the subject.
When hunting for perfect famous people photos, you may take thousands of photos during an event and from all those exposures you are very lucky to get one or two good shots. It is very rare that all these puzzle pieces come together in one click. This is probably why most paparazzi shoot for quantity, not quality.
My official job on that sunny day back in March (and for the next 10 years) was to shoot the standard posed paparazzi style famous people photos. My agency wanted standing, smiling at the camera type shots ready to be splashed on the tabloids all over the world the next day. It took me only a few seconds to realize that I would be missing a huge opportunity if I limited photos to such a narrow view.
As I stood shoulder to shoulder with the other photographers on the world’s most famous 60 yards of carpet watching the waves of celebrity pass only a few feet in front of me, I played a dual role. I was one cameraman for my agency snapping the standard famous people photos and with my second camera and mini telephoto lens, I shot for my personal collection, mostly in black and white.