Andrew Hetherington on Shooting Celebrities and Comedians for People Magazine
September 11, 2017
Andrew and I have been friends for close to 10 years now, so when I saw the picture of comedian James Corden sleeping in his studio on Hetherington’s Instagram feed, shot for People Magazine ‘Emmy’s Funniest People after Dark’ portfolio, I just had to find out more.
Peter Berberian: Can you give me a little background on the shoot?
Andrew Hetherington: After getting an initial email from Catriona NiAolain (@catrionaniaolain), photo director at People magazine, about shooting their annual Emmy portfolio enquiring about my interest and availability, I had a meeting with her and creative director Andrea Dunham (@aldunham) to brainstorm creative, scheduling, logistics etc.
Since all of the subjects in the series appear on nighttime shows, the concept was to shoot them at night, doing night time things. Ironically though, all the photo shoots took place during the day.
PB: What was the timeline involved with working for People?
AH: The whole shoot took two weeks from the initial email to publication.
One of the challenges was that the schedule was constantly changing as per subject’s availabilities and because of changing concept or location approvals.
The last shoot had to be by Sunday, August 6, since the issue was closing the next day (on Monday, August 7). The deadlines were super tight and edits had to go out immediately after each sitting.
PB: How many images make up the portfolio?
AH: We shot six subjects total. Three in New York City and three in Los Angeles. They ran six images in print in the magazine and also two covers.
PB: How many people did you travel with?
AH: I traveled with one assistant and then hired local techs and second assistants. Jean Jarvis (@jeanjarvis), the producer, and the stylist, Stephanie Tricola (@stricola), also traveled with me. It was important to have as much continuity in the production and crew as possible between both cities.
Because of the last-minute talent schedule changes, my LA crew was different each shoot day.
PB: Did you start in New York or Los Angeles?
AH: New York. The first shoot was with Amanda Bayer of Saturday Night Live on Thursday, July 27. My producer Jean Jarvis had less than 24 hours to find a location, which was ultimately a laundromat in Brooklyn. This was the only location where we blacked out the windows. Thankfully all the other locations were more compliant on our night time theme.
The second shoot was Leslie Jones, also of SNL, at a gym on the Upper East Side on Sunday, July 30. She’s a work out fanatic and we photographed her with her trainer Thaddeus.
Then on Monday, July 3, we traveled to Los Angeles. The first shoot in LA was of Billy Eichner at a piano bar in Hollywood and was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but it got pushed to Wednesday. Then on Thursday we photographed Sarah Silverman at her apartment. We had discovered that she loved basketball, so my prop stylist Charlotte Malmof (@charlotte_props) sourced the hoop the night before.
We had to wrap the Silverman shoot quickly as we were scheduled to be at CBS studios that afternoon to shoot James Corden on The Late Late Show set. Even thought there is no such thing as a “quick trip” across Hollywood, we made it in record time!
My number one idea was to have him sleeping behind his desk on the set. I knew it would make a great double page opener, however, his PR said he probably wouldn’t go for it so I prepared two other options. Fortunately, James went for the sleeping-on-set idea and nixed the others! He literally laid right down on the prop sleeping bag and pillow and ten minutes later the shoot was over. I captured 32 frames of him behind the desk, and a few straight up portrait option too as the secondary set up.
PB: What were the other ideas? Will you try to use them on another job?
AH: The other ideas were very specific to the location. Riffs on the sleeping behind desk concept.
PB: Who was next?
AH: Fast forward to Friday, July 4. We touched down at JFK at 5:30 AM and had an 8 AM call time at Amsterdam Billiards in the East Village for Samantha Bee’s shoot. I had just enough time for a car home and a quick shower. In reality, half the portfolio was shot in 28 hours including a cross country flight.
PB: Is there such a thing as a quick shower with such impressive facial hair?
AH: Well, my hair isn’t so impressive, so yeah speed shower with a splash of beard oil and we were back out the door!
PB: Tell me about the post-production
AH: All I had to is deliver the final edit and wait for People to get back with their final selects. They had been editing the other shots as we went, so that was a big help. I supervised retouching over the weekend with a Monday AM final file delivery. By Wednesday morning, the magazine was on the newsstands.
More about Andrew? https://www.ahetherington.com/