2011-12-12. Common for Respect Magazine. And zombies.
I’ve been wanting to shoot more celebrities since I moved to New York. Seems counterintuitive, since they all appear to congregate in Los Angeles. But no matter, I see that New York-based photographers I admire shoot them often here too. It has been challenging to get, but it’s possible.
So when Casey and Monique of Kids With Candy Productions (who apart from having a full plate producing, also moonlight as photo editors for Respect) approached me with the opportunity to shoot Common, I jumped on it. It didn’t matter if I had to shoot him at midnight, or could only have him for five minutes. I would do it. I would adapt.
Careful what you wish for. All shoots come with their own particular set of challenges. But this one, ohhh.
We were told the shoot was going to take place at Warner Bros. in midtown. Call time was to be 4:30 pm on a Wednesday. After a lot of back and forth over a couple days, that changed to Thursday at 6:45 pm. Thankfully I was still available.
Since I wished to shoot him on the street as well, I wanted to head to the location a couple of hours earlier and scout around the area. And as it was going to be dark already, I decided to bring some lighting for that as well. (I was getting really excited… I wanted to try a colored gel or two on one of the strobes and attempt to get a sodium vapor look to one of the outdoor setups.)
Once we got there, and after more than half an hour of attempting to get all our equipment up the building, we were told by the receptionist upstairs that the shoot location had changed. We would have to meet Common and his team at Jay-Z’s Roc The Mic Studios down on West 27th Street.
We headed back downstairs and hailed a cab. I really don’t know how we did it, but my assistants Pete and Adam and I fit in the cab like sardines with all our equipment. Once we got to Roc The Mic, I got word that shooting him outside was no longer an option (no sodium vapor options this time). Fortunately there was a whole empty floor upstairs from the studio, white walls and clean. A blessing in disguise.
We got setup, went through scenarios, and waited until Common was ready. We waited….
Mr Common shows up finally with a small entourage of mostly women. Another man puts some music on from a small portable stereo. We get to work. Common was gracious and charming. But best of all, he was into the ideas I suggested… like, “let’s jump!” (see below)
What’s the moral of the story? At the end, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and all that. The shoot turned out amazing. I was so happy with it, that at the end of the shoot I got away with shooting Casey, Monique and my kind assistants Adam and Pete, acting out as… Zombies!
(Must have been because I was watching The Walking Dead at the time.)