Tips on Photographing Celebrities in the Studio

Taking portraits of any person can make you nervous, but taking photos of a celebrity? Now that’s nerve-wracking. Celebrities often have little time to spare. So when you’re asked to photograph them, you have to make it quick and easy, yet at the same time be able to reach a comfort level with them that allows you to capture great photos. In this video, professional photographer Hernan Rodriguez gives a few tips on shooting celebrities while photographing five-time World Heavyweight Champion Boxer Evander Holyfield:

Rodriguez’s Tips for Shooting Celebrities

  • Be Prepared. Celebrities have limited time in their schedules, so make sure you make all necessary preparations before they arrive. Have your lights, backgrounds, and camera set up and your scene metered and ready to take shots as soon as your subject arrives.
  • Be Versatile. This is not so much saying that you should try many different looks and styles. It’s quite possible that you know what style you want or you may find one that works right away. But always have the option to try different things. Prepare multiple lights, locations, and backgrounds so that if your current look isn’t working you can easily try something else.
  • Modifiers. Light modifiers can help distinguish between your different styles of photos. Perhaps you want some business shots with a sharp, crisp light but also a few casual images with softer lighting.
  • Lenses. Different lenses can give you different levels of intimacy with your subject. A telephoto can help you get in close and personal, while a wide angle can give you a full view of your subject. In this shoot, Rodriguez used three lenses, a Tamron 24-70mm, Tamron 70-200mm, and Tamron 90mm.
  • To Flash or Not? Both strobes and continuous lights have their place in the studio. They can be used together or separately, and each has its advantages.
  • High Key to Low Key. These two types of lighting schemes can have a dramatic effect on the mood and tone of your images. High key lighting involves several bright lights that give an even overall light with no shadows. Low key, on the other hand, is for more moody scenes as it includes many dark shadows and highlights.
  • Trust. Even with the best camera, lenses, and lighting equipment in the world, it’s hard to capture a good portrait when your subject isn’t comfortable. Most people don’t feel natural in front of a camera so it’s important as a photographer to gain the trust of your subject and make him/her feel comfortable. Chat with them, compliment them, and be friendly.
photographing celebrities celebrity studio lighting tips

Trust will allow for your subject to be comfortable and open to different ideas and poses

“I gotta be able to earn the trust of the subject. Once you do, everything else is just a formality.”

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