South Carolina-based professional photographer James Quantz Jr, recently shared a video talking about his experience shooting American actress and model Angie Harmon. In the video, he talks about different aspects related to the shoot starting with getting the job and including details on some of the technical aspects of the shoot.
The complexities of shooting celebrities
Unlike shooting “normal” portraits, shooting celebrities commercially (and this might hold true for actors, athletes, politicians, and others), there are some challenges to the shoot that is above and beyond what you might face on a standard portrait shoot.
While on many shoots you typically deal with the client directly, with these types of shoots you will usually be working with an agency, network, or sometimes a magazine. This type of shoot might in some cases involve long preparations ahead of the shoot and quite a few people who might want to bring their own creative input to the table.
In many cases, you might need to prove that you have what it takes to shoot on this level and present a body of work that is relevant for the job (a lot might depend on such a shoot including possibly substantial amounts of money).
It is common to receive a mood board that will give the photographer a general idea of how the executives would like the image to look. From the photographer’s perspective, he needs to be ready to explain just how the required look will be achieved. If you are not confident here – you might lose the job so be ready.
If you were successful in getting the job the next step is more logistical. working with the production company in many cases on where, when, and how the shoot will take place. This can be in your city half a world away and you need to be able to bring or secure all the gear that you will need in both cases.
According to Quantz Jr. being “easy to work with” might be a big bonus that can help you get more work from production companies that already deal with a lot of technical complexities and want to have a trustworthy photographer that they know will deliver every time.
For the current shoot, Quantz Jr. worked in a large auditorium which was used mostly to record promos for an upcoming show so the stills shoot was just a side aspect of a much bigger production taking place at the same time.
Some of the setup for this particular shoot was not really all that special. Quantz Jr. used a Canon R5 with a 24-70mm lens, five different lights strobes (profoto) over a gray background (that was later removed in post) as well as a V-flat for fill.
The biggest challenge of this shoot seems to be time. Quantz Jr. only had 10 minutes for the entire shoot and he was required to capture full body shots, standing shots, sitting, and tight images – we can certainly tell you that this isn’t a simple task.
To be able to prepare everything in time prior to the shoot a stand-in model was hired and helped Quantz Jr. to set up the lights in a proper way well before Harmon arrived.
Making this even more difficult was the fact that all the images he shot were transmitted to NY over the computer in real-time and viewed by the network team. To make this really challenging Quantz Jr. had an earpiece where he received instructions on changes from the team in NY as he was shooting.
This type of pressure is not something that most photographers are used to but Quantz Jr. has been shooting celebrity athletes for years and having very limited time with athletes is quite common in this type of work and luckily all went well with this shoot thanks to a lot of preparations as well as previous expirience.