Lessons learned while photographing celebrities

Lessons learned while photographing celebrities

One of our favourite shots from the festival (Photo by Karon Liu) 

We consider ourselves to be experts in taking red carpet photos, having attended quite a few of the galas and special presentations since TIFF began. With every premiere, we learned something new in mastering the art of getting the perfect shot.

1. The red carpet media section is overrated
Those who don’t have the coveted green lanyard that gives them access to red carpet calls need not be jealous, for most celebrities are boring once they walk the red carpet. Think about it: there are 20 other photographers who are all taking the same photo of the actor in the same pose, against the same ugly background decorated with a bunch of tacky logos. Being in the fan section allows opportunities for candid shots of celebs interacting with fans with genuine smiles rather than forced grins.

2. Be overly patient
Three hours is the minimum amount of time we spent waiting for the red carpet call in the fan section to secure a spot at the front of the barricades. Here’s how much time we spent waiting at the following premieres, depending on the celebrities expected to show up:

Creation (Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly): Two hours
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (Keanu Reeves, Robin Wright Penn): Two hours
Leaves of Grass (Edward Norton, Keri Russell): Three hours
Chloe (Julianne Moore, Amanda Seyfried): Three hours
Up In the Air (George Clooney, Jason Bateman): Five hours
Precious (Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey): Seven hours

3. Bring a collapsible stool
They cost less than $10 at Canadian Tire, can fit in a tote bag and weigh less than two pounds. These babies provide a seat during long waits and double as a stool to stand on should there needs to be an extra foot to achieve a good angle. Those who are hard core can purchase a step ladder but be warned: during the Precious premiere the crowds got so rough the woman standing on a two-step beside us almost fell.

4. Understand the dance known as hogging space
Sit on the ground and place a bag or backpack on the side to allow extra space to stretch out while waiting for celebrities to arrive. People will slowly inch closer and closer toward the front but a well-placed bag and the phrase, “That’s my bag, I’ll move it when it gets closer to the premiere so you can move in,” will ensure others will stop crowding, knowing they are guaranteed a better view once the bag is removed.

5. Know when to give up
If there is more than two rows of people in front and there is no chair or stool to stand on, it is near impossible to snap a good photo so don’t bother because it will result in a photograph of blurry arms and the pavement.