The Unpredictable World Of Celebrity Photography

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© Tony Duran

By Tony Duran

What is so interesting about the world of celebrity photography is that it is so unpredictable and, quite frankly, out of the photographer's control.  My photographic style developed by shooting all kinds of celebrities in all kinds of situations.  My main partner in crime and collaborator who has given me,  without doubt, most of my tools of the trade, is Jennifer Lopez. Spontaneity, of the moment decision-making, and flexibility are the keys to capturing her larger than life persona.  Confidence in one's self as an artist has gotten me through many over the top moments and has brought me to what has ultimately led me to many memorable and iconic shots.

This shot was taken in 2002 for Jennifer’s album packaging shoot for her album, This Is Me…Then.  It was shot at the height of her romance with Ben Affleck and during all of the craziness that surrounded "Bennifer".  Jennifer's career was at a peak in all ways. I wanted the shoot to reflect what it was like to be Jennifer at that time.  My job for this two day shoot was to capture the fashion moments, the personal moments as well as the behind-the-scenes moments, all of which, were later to be included into the album packaging. I was also hired to shoot the behind-the-scenes of the making of  the “Jenny on the Block" music video..  Needless to say there was a lot to do in just a few days.  We were also shooting other magazine covers at the same time as the album shoot. It was all about managing time and being on point - very much like a sporting event.

The shot of Jennifer exiting the Bentley was an idea that Benny Medina, Jennifer's manager had at the end of the first day of the shoot.  It was shot after 10 pm and was all VERY last minute. What looks like a crowd of paparazzi are actually everyday people we recruited off of the street in New York City. We grabbed anyone we could and handed them our own equipment – all to the GREAT dismay of my first assistant, who already had a heart attack from setting up lights for an unknown shot in an entry of a hotel, in the middle of the night, in a matter of minutes.  Jennifer thought the shoot had wrapped and didn't even know the shot was going to happen.  

So at the last minute, we told her, throw on a fur coat and head down to the lobby.  She walked out the front door to see all these crazy people snapping shots and crawling on the prized Bentley.  I watched as the record label creative director practically have an aneurism! Without missing a beat, an already exhausted Jennifer simply walked to the car and immediately got into character.  And in usual form, I just shot as fast as I could capturing all of the timeless moments happening in front of me.  With Jennifer and I don't even have to speak. For the two of us, working together is like a quiet surgery in the midst of complete chaos- just a point of my finger or a look in my eye is enough to direct her into the shot.

Within minutes the shoot was over and as simply as she sauntered into the luxury car, she slid right out and walked directly to the street where her actual car was waiting to take her to the helicopter pad in Midtown so she could fly to Philadelphia to see Ben. I followed her all the way to the port with my camera with the only glitch being we had to stop the limo in order for me to get car sick because the whole time I was facing backward shooting.  All of this nuttiness to only return first thing in the morning to New York to continue the shoot.  We started our day with the front page of the New York Post showing us shooting in the carport of the hotel stating it was something completely different than it was. So typical in Jennifer's life, but kinda hysterical in the scheme of the shoot!

Tony Duran has shot for a plethora of magazines culminating in iconic photographic relationships with superstars Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt to name just a very few. His Iris Nights lecture will take place on Thursday, July 11th, 2013 at 6:30pm.

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