What does it take to shoot a big campaign with big-time subjects? Chase Jarvis takes us behind the scenes of a multi-day shoot for Wilson Tennis, for whom he jetted off to Palm Springs and Miami to shoot the likes of Serena Williams and Roger Federer. For this campaign, the commercial photographer used huge green screens draped behind the athletes in order to later “place” them in Wimbledon or the Australian Open. That’s one way to get a game-day result without having to shoot the tennis stars in a crowded stadium.
Jarvis wrote a blog post following the shoot with some insights into working with celebrity talent. One point that particularly stuck out: get to know everything you can about your subject, and then be as authentic and genuine as you’ve ever been on set. It sounds easy, but it’s also easy to get starstruck.
Celebrities have been photographed a lot, but that doesn’t mean a photographer can waltz into a shoot banking on the subject’s experience, Jarvis explains; chances are, they haven’t had great experiences with photographers. When asked, celebrity photographers (especially those whose reputation and work have become iconic) have said that acting natural and getting to know a subject’s world is the way to a great photograph. Think about this shoot with the band Alabama Shakes by Christaan Felber, who used his self-professed music nerdom as a bonding method, or this photo by Art Streiber, who absolutely had to have watched episodes of HBO’s VEEP in order to conceive of this shoot with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale.
Another point: be collaborative. While some celebrities might like to take the back seat and let the photographer drive, others are intuitively creative. Remember Sandro’s “Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich” project? There’s no way that series could have come to fruition without both participants’ full input and hands-on participation.
See how Jarvis interacts with his tennis star subjects: