One Festival, Six Hours, Thirty Portraits
by Maria Luci
Anya Chibis begins her story by stating, “shooting for The Hollywood Reporter during the festival was one of the most stressful jobs that I have ever done.” Needless to say, I had to learn more. Anya obliged, and continued by saying, “although, I managed to remain very calm during the shoot.”
The festival Anya is discussing is the Toronto International Film Festival. The Hollywood Reporter, after initially finding Anya on Wonderful Machine and hiring her for several shoots, recently contacted her again about capturing celebrity portraits at the festival. The magazine had reserved an entire restaurant to conduct interviews with actors, writers and directors—there would also be videographers and sponsors, and they wanted Anya to take quick portraits in between interviews.
Anya was initially told she would have her own room for the shoot, but when she arrived, she found the sponsors had taken over the space. She ended up with a “little corner of the restaurant.” To make due, she roamed the space, finding little spots, corners and unique backdrops to photograph the celebrities in, to make each shot look a little different. “The client didn’t want a studio shoot, they wanted the beautiful natural light portraits that I do. It ended up being more of a location shoot, just in one location.”
However, this was not the cause of Anya’s aforementioned stress. That came from the fact that most of the celebrities were not prepared to volunteer their time for a photo shoot. Their day was filled, and their busy schedules made them antsy. “The challenge was to get a good portrait in a matter of minutes, sometimes even seconds,” Anya recalls, adding she used tactics such as “small talk, flirting, and sometimes standing back and just snapping while letting the person go” to get the shots she needed. “I just had to use quick, on the spot judgement.” In the end, she photographed close to 30 portraits in a period of six hours.
Anya was happy to have captured some beautiful and relaxed portraits under such harried circumstances. When I asked who her favorite subject was, Anya replies, “It’s hard to tell…” However, she did pick out director Sally Potter as one of the most memorable and pleasant to photograph saying, “she’s a ballet dance, I believe, and also had a dance company. There was just a certain grace about her, how she just sat down and how she moved. She managed to move away from the craziness of the place while I was shooting. It seemed like she was completely one-on-one with me, which was very special. She totally dedicated herself emotionally for the shoot.” Another stand out was actress Elle Fanning, who Anya calls “fantastic, an incredible sweetheart, and very patient. She also made herself available and it resulted in a beautiful portrait.”
Anya says that working with THR is always a great experience because of their amazing team, put together by Photo Director Jennifer Laski. The magazine ended up using Anya’s photos for special, daily issues of the publication, released in Toronto during the festival. Several of the photographs were also published in their monthly issue.
View more at anyachibis.com.