Getting bored with photography? Feel like everything is old and stale? Can’t figure out what to shoot, or where to go from here? Can’t figure out how to have fun and have it be exciting anymore? Are you in a rut with your photography?
How about getting into hanging out with and photographing some celebrities? That would probably be fairly interesting if you’re not used to doing that sort of thing, huh? And, It’s easier to do than you might think.
First off, let me make clear that if you’ve come here looking for how to become a celebrity photographer with a curiosity toward becoming a paparazzi type of photographer, then this article isn’t for you. I’m not going to be discussing how to photograph celebrities in such a manner. Perhaps I will write an article on that subject someday, but today is not the day for that. This article will deal with how to actually book time with celebrities and set up personal, one-on-one photo-shoots with them. So, if that’s the kind of thing you’re curious about, then keep reading.
Like I said, it’s not as difficult as you might think to get celebrities to shoot with you. You can do it. It just requires a small amount of patience and some minor people-skills that you likely already possess — unless, of course, you’re the type of person that people generally consider to be brash, obnoxious, rude, etc. If you are, then you likely wont have much luck. But, as long as you know how to be reasonably friendly, polite and unassuming, you’re pretty much golden.
Ok, ok, so, you’re not likely to be able to book-in any world-famous movie stars or anything like that right out of the gate. So, if you were thinking that I was going to explain to you steps you can take to get, say, a Johnny Depp, or an Angelina Jolie into your basement photography studio next week. I’m sorry, but that’s likely close to impossible. But, with the information I’m about to divulge, that could very well be something to work toward that you may be able to realize somewhere down the line. But, to get there — just like with so many things in life — it’s best to start small and work your way up.
Very often, there are local celebrities in most areas, and getting in touch with them is not as difficult as most people tend to think. And, getting them to book an hour or so with you for a photo-shoot is also not as difficult as you’d probably imagine.
The idea is to start small and work your way up. Identify some local celebrities who are known in your area, but aren’t considered to be really ‘big names’ — even locally. If you can book a photo-shoot with them, then having those people in your portfolio will make it easier to book in slightly more popular; well known local celebrities. Once you have good photos of those people in your portfolio, then getting even bigger names becomes easier, and so on.
Getting minor celebrities to work with you is probably not as difficult as you might think, most of the time. Of course, everyone is an individual, and different people, no matter their level of celebrity status, have differing personalties. Some people will be real high-energy go-getters who are always on the move every minute of the day, and are always eager to meet, network, and work with new people. Others will be highly introverted, near-hermits who will shun any attention that they don’t absolutely need to endure for their job. Everyone is different. But, when it comes to anyone, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
So, again, the idea is to identify some small-name local celebrities. People who are known and respected, but who don’t have a level of celebrity status where they’re constantly inundated with people seeking their time and attention. You might want to think about a reasonably popular weatherman on the number two, or three station in town, or someone like that. Or, a somewhat known owner of a small, local business who people know from the late-night TV commercials he runs.
If you can book these people in for a photo-session, and produce some good photos, you can use those photos to attract larger names in the future. And, when you get those larger names, you can, of course, use the photos of them to book even larger names, and so on — working your way up and up to bigger and bigger names.
Smaller-named celebrities are really not inaccessible. Look for Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, personal webpages that might contain an e-mail address, and contact them through there. Or, you can even look-up their addresses and send them letters through the mail expressing your interest, perhaps outlining a proposal for a shoot, and with an invitation to contact you if they’re interested.
When contacting them, the things to remember are to try and be as unobtrusive as you can. Be polite and friendly in your demeanor. Don’t be pushy, or insistent. And DO NOT be a ‘fan’. Be friendly and professional — act like a peer. Be flattering, but not overly so — not like a real fan would be. Don’t heap praise and adulation on them like a fan of theirs would. This will immediately turn a lot of people off. Many celebrities appreciate their fans, but like to keep them at arms length.
I heard a story a while back (although I can’t remember who told it now) wherein someone had the fortune of meeting Paul McCartney and having dinner with him and a group of mutual friends, at some sort of event, if memory serves. After an evening of enjoyable conversation, and the pleasure of Getting to know Sir Paul, the person telling the story asked Paul McCartney if it would be alright if the two could get a picture of Paul and himself together. Paul’s response was. “If you’d like, yes. But, let me tell you: You can be a friend, or fan. But, you can’t be both.” A lot of celebrities have the same sort of attitude — they must in order to maintain their safety, sanity, and lead some semblance of a rational life. If you’re a fan, then you’re a fan. You can’t also be a personal friend, or a business associate, or much of anything else.
So, keep that in mind and act accordingly when interacting with celebrities. It’s good to have a healthy respect, admiration and appreciation for their work. But don’t be ‘fan’-atical about it. If you’re a ‘fan’ of theirs, then that’s what you’ll be to them — a fan. And, if you’re a fan, then you can maybe have an autograph, perhaps take a selfie with them, but then it’s time to get on with your life and let them get on with theirs. Be a peer — not a fan. You’re interested in doing a shoot with them — but, if they’re not interested, then it’s disappointing, but no big loss. You don’t need them. You’ll just move on to your next choice and not give them another thought.
When you contact them, let them know that you’re a photographer who’s interested in working with local celebrities. And, simply ask them if they might have an hour, whenever would be most convenient for them, to book a shoot. Barter with them if need be: Are they involved in any charities? Perhaps the charity could use some promotional photos, and you can trade an hour of their time for three hours of yours, or some such thing. You can even offer to pay them a reasonable fee for their time, if you have the funds — for small-name local celebrities, the price will likely be reasonable. Or, offer to make a donation to a charity they might be involved in.
But, don’t be pushy. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but it does hurt to harass. Ask nicely and politely. If they decline, then they decline. Apologize for the intrusion, thank them for their time, and move on to someone else, letting them know that you wont bother them again, but that they can contact you should they change their mind.
If you go through a list of local small-name celebrities, you’ll be surprised at how many will be open to the offer. Of course, you’re going to have people say no at first — probably most of them will. But, some wont. If you come across as professional, polite and friendly, some will be open to it. And, if you book them in for an hour or two and produce good photos, those photos will go into your portfolio. When contacting other celebrities, you’ll then be able to drop names: “I’ve photographed Johnny Whadzizfayce, Jim Locultalunt and Jane Frumchanilsix.” Other celebrities will want to be part of that group. And, once you work with the smaller celebrities, slightly bigger celebrities will be more apt to be open to booking a small amount of their free time with you. And, of course, once you’ve worked with the slightly bigger celebrities, then even bigger ones will be more open, and so on and so forth.
Eventually, you’ll build a portfolio that contains photos of many celebrities and, if you do well, you’ll gain something of a reputation as a celebrity photographer. When that reputation gets around, you might actually find celebrities calling you to book shoots.
It may sound far-fetched to you — it may sound to you like it would never work. But, believe it or not, it does.