Part 2: Capturing the Essence of Oscar Nominees
Posted on 22nd August 2018 by Austin Gould

Last week we shared a story about photographer Valerie Macon's work at the Oscar Nominees Luncheon. In it, we discussed when and where the portraits were taken, how she got the job, and what it was like to shoot for this project.

This week, we'll look at other unique aspects of the shoot, what Valerie did differently for the shoot, her favorite part of the project, and what surprised her the most.

So let's dive in!

What else made this shoot unique?

The difference between this and other photoshoots is that most of the time (even when you had sent them an email to make an appointment) you need to catch people when they are on their way to one of the TV interviews (there are a few TV sets and studios set up around the Beverly Hilton’s pool).

At this point they are next to your studio space and you can convince them (or their publicist) to stop by when they have a moment. You also need one or even 2 good assistants who will make sure that they will actually come to your studio. I was lucky because I had the best assistants.

Oscar Nominee 1

The talent are so busy during the awards season that they don’t always want to pose for another photoshoot.

You have to be quick. You have no more than 2 minutes to make a connection and catch one side of their personality… 2 minutes is very short amount of time to get an actor, who is used to always playing a character, to reveal a bit of their personality. But when they do, you get a great shot that you can be proud of.

Is there anything you particularly liked or did differently when shooting for this event?

First of all, I spent a lot of time at the theater watching movies.

It was very interesting to share with the subjects how I understood their movie and to ask them their point of view.

During the Luncheon, you work with very creative professionals, so I made sure that I had seen their work. It helped me to connect with my “subject”. I wouldn’t have had the same photo from Guillermo Del Toro if I didn’t talk about the end of the “Shape of Water”, or with Sam Rockwell if we hadn’t talked about how he understood his character in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”.

The most difficult thing for me was to not show any stress, making sure that I looked very confident when I asked them to pose in a certain way.

Oscar Nominee 2

What was your favorite part of this project?

My favorite part was the interaction with the talent that took the time to stop by the studio, even if it was only for a few minutes.

They sometimes share with you some very funny stories that happened during the making of their movie. It’s always very interesting and fun to talk with these amazingly creative people.

Overall, I had the best time of the day talking and doing the portrait of Guillermo Del Toro. He is such a spontaneous and nice person, and he showed how happy he was to be part of the nominees.

Oscar Nominee 3

What surprised you the most about this project?

What surprised me the most during this photoshoot was just how many actors can be shy and very uncomfortable in front of a camera.

I guess when they are shooting a movie they are not themselves in front of the camera, they are their character.  It makes it very challenging to get them to pose. At the same time, I think it’s very important to show this shy side.

Some others, like Timothee Chalamet, Dee Rees or Rachel Morrison are “natural”. They know exactly what image they want to show of themselves.

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