The Met Gala is bigger than the Oscars
People are always surprised when I say this, but the Met Ball is the Super Bowl of red carpet events – it’s bigger than the Oscars. First of all, you get these amazing outfits. You also get actors, designers, musicians, socialites, models, so it runs the entire gamut of entertainment. The Oscars is obviously an amazing event, it’s huge, but it focuses mainly on those people who are nominated. The Met is just above and beyond – the biggest and the best. And it is one of the only events where you have a full press pen on both sides of the red carpet. That’s very unusual.
Katy Perry is the best poser
She always looks at each photographer [individually] and she’s always ready to give you photos. Sometimes the up-and-comers don’t get it yet and they’re a little nervous – it’s chaotic, 100 photographers are screaming at you are flashes going off, so it can be unsettling. But Katy Perry is good. She’s really good.
Celebrities are very insistent about their ‘good side’
Mariah Carey is very strict about being photographed from one particular side. I don’t know if she does this still, but Selena Gomez once had half the photo pit blocked off, because she always wanted to be photographed on her left side. Most celebrities tend to be photogenic, they tend to look good, and the camera loves them.
The photography pen has a clear pecking order...
If you’re taking pictures for a really well-known agency and the press person is familiar with you, and they know that you’ll place photos, then you’ll get a spot in what’s called ‘the A Pen’. There are usually 10 to 15 photographers there. It sort of used to be a boys club but it has changed. Now you’ve got bloggers and people with cell phones in the photography pens.
...and a litany of unwritten rules
There is an unwritten rule about eye contact with the talent. It’s really, really not good to take the eye contact away from your fellow photographers. It usually goes down the line. You call out, you get them [the celebrity] to look at you in the eye, you take the picture and then they look at the next person. They give you enough time to get a headshot, a three-quarter and a full-length shot. There are always photographers who cheat, and those who call and mess up the order and people get angry. But it’s all in good fun.
Even the photography pit wears black tie
The general rule is black is best. A lot of times we get a last minute request to photograph inside the party or cocktail reception, so you shouldn’t go in shorts and sneakers and a T-shirt.
Sometimes you have to tell a celebrity’s date to step out of the picture
Protocol is, the couple always pose together. Then you just try and ask politely, ‘Would you mind if we just get a fashion shot?’ Nine times out of ten, the date understands.The Met Gala 2017 Theme: What You Need To Know
The Met Gala 2017 Theme: What You Need To Know
Everyone wants to get a wacky shot
Only one photographer, maybe two, got that shot of Amy Schumer diving in front of Kim and Kanye. Those wacky pictures are fantastic – and they run. Getting those candid moments, stuff that’s unusual, you come away smiling and excited. My favourite shot was at last year’s Met Gala, when I photographed Kristen Stewart. She walked up the steps and laughed and gave this great big smile. She’s someone who is very serious on the carpet and doesn’t love being photographed. So it was great moment to capture because it was real and she was genuinely happy.
You do end up making friends with celebrities
They remember you more than you think they might. Once I tripped over someone else’s equipment and Reese Witherspoon ran over and helped me up.
No one gets bored of Beyoncé
I’ve been photographing Beyoncé ever since she was in Destiny’s Child. She has always brought excitement and glamour – she’s always fun to photograph. There’s a reason why she’s where she is.