Shooting Pablo

On Friday I received an email from an editor asking if I could do a last-minute shoot with a celebrity that would be in town for only a few hours. I didn't have much to go on, and the next day (which would be the day of this shoot) I already had 3 shoots and quite a bit of traveling between them. So I simply replied with what my availability would be and it happened to fit perfectly with "the celebrity's" schedule.

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The editor told me, after I agreed to shoot, who the subject would be "world-renown comedian Pablo Francisco." Those were the exact words in the email she sent me. Well, I didn't know Pablo, and my wife would tell you that's nothing new. I follow celebrities like I follow soap operas (do they still make soap operas?)

So, I did my research on Pablo, apparently he is very well-known, with appearances on MADtv, Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Last Comic Standing, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, among others. I also prepped for what I knew, which wasn't much. I would have 15 minutes to both set-up AND shoot a cover, and it would have to happen in the green room at a Phoenix comedy club. Awesome.

So I arrive on time to the club around 6:15pm, and I was supposed to have 6:30-6:45pm to do my thing in the green room.... but by 6:50 I was still standing in the back of a quickly filling comedy club with a cart full of bulky equipment. His publicist came and told me he had a conflicting schedule and was on the phone doing an interview with a radio station in Australia that went long, and it would be about 7pm before I could get started. I wasn't frustrated by the delay, just anxious because of the tight schedule and small shooting space, I didn't know what to expect with the room, or with Pablo.

7pm, they came and got me, it was time to get started. The magazine editor was there also to interview Pablo as we shot, luckily we had 15 whole minutes for this. She began the interview as I was setting up my light. I wish it was while I was setting my lights, but it was just light - one. The green room was basically a backstage closet, tight for 2 people, very tight for the 6 of us squeezed in there. Because of the space, I could only use one light. I opted for an AB800 in a large halo, and pointed it at the only solid wall in the room. I snapped a few frames of Pablo speaking with the magazine editor to test my settings before I had my 5 minutes with him, and I was ready to go.

Pablo, as you may imagine a top-level comedian to be, was extremely comfortable in front of the camera, and I was the one struggling to keep up with his expression and pose changes. It was just rapid fire posing for 5 minutes and then we were done. I packed up my lights, cords, triggers, cameras (which had taken over the entire small room) and we were out of there. It was pretty stressful, and a lot of fun. I don't think I took a breathe the whole time I was actually shooting, and I didn't even pause to check my images until after we left.

I definitely would have done a few things differently, like call the club in advance and ask about the green room. BTW, the green room is NOT green (why the name? I have no idea). But everything went smoothly, and I walked away with some solid images. Pablo isn't the biggest celebrity I have ever photographed, but he is the biggest one I ever photographed for a magazine cover, so I was excited about that.


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