When you only have fifteen minutes with your subject, you have to be ready. That’s just how much time Los Angeles-based celebrity photographer Austin Hargrave had on his latest shoot for British film magazine Empire. Debi, an Empire photo editor, called up Austin to see if he would be interested in shooting the one and only Danny DeVito. They needed a few shots to illustrate their article on the famous actor, writer, comedian and director. And, as with most celebrity photo shoots, Austin would have little time with his star. He happily accepted the challenge.
According to Austin, Debi gave him a good amount of leeway creatively with the shoot, “[she] gave me a lot of freedom on this one.” All she asked for was several strong portraits of Danny. Luckily, strong celeb portraits are Austin’s strong suit.
So, with powerful shots in mind, Austin and his team set out to photograph Danny in between his busy schedule of shooting promos for The Lorax in Hollywood. Austin says of the shoot,
We had a 20×20 space in the studio to use where the film crew had already stored their gear. We had to clear a space after they took a break and set up with only a few minutes to spare before Danny arrived. Because of his size I wanted to shoot on a 8×10 film for the tighter portraits, try and get near a life size image. Just by chance there was a huge arrow painted on the outside of the next door building, at exactly the same height as Danny (5 ft).
However, Austin soon realized that his choice of film may have been a bad idea—”I’d shot 8×10 before on shoots, but with only a 15 minute window, the camera seemed really slow. Fortunately, Danny was really into it and said he enjoyed the experience.” He was apparently also a fun subject, telling jokes through the entire shoot, including one “very rude” joke about a nun and some keys…
In the end, even with a slow camera, the shoot went smoothly and Austin ended up with a good variety of shots. They even managed four different set ups. But with no specific shots requested he still found himself a bit nervous when turning in the final photos. But apparently his nerves were for nothing as Empire ended up using everything they shot.