How I Started to Photograph Celebrities

My photography journey began in 2012 when I got my Canon T3 with high hopes of becoming a famous YouTuber. Being the amateur that I was, I bought the camera just because it was a part of the Rebel line of cameras, aka what all beauty gurus used to use. Silly me, I bought the model without a view finder, which resulted in many out of focus videos, which inevitably led to me giving up.

Photography was never really something that I ever thought about. I used my Canon occasionally; using it to take “quality” Tumblr photos, which got me some credit on the internet. I also used to do “photoshoots” with my friends, which were literally the worst things ever. I don’t even want to talk about it.

Fast forward and my Canon T3 gets stolen. I made the decision to purchase the newest model in the Rebel series at the time, the Canon T5i. I bought the right camera this time and got it with intentions of taking a crack at being a YouTuber again. To be fair, I really gave the whole YouTube thing a shot. My video concepts were good, the quality was great, the editing was amazing, but it just wasn’t going anywhere. I was 18 years old and was about to head into university. I knew, or at least I thought, I wouldn’t have time to give a YouTube channel the TLC it deserves.

Fast forward again and I landed myself at Wilfrid Laurier University. My roommate Elora and I planned on filming YouTube videos together, so I brought all of my photography equipment to school with me. If you thought making a YouTube channel by yourself is hard, try making one with someone else- it’s even worse! Managing one schedule is hard, never mind two. Alas, I retired my camera and put it back on the shelf, with no intentions of touching it again.

December rolls around and I created my own fashion and pop culture magazine at Laurier. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but I landed myself a position as a photographer for the magazine and was in charge of executing some major shoots. The first photoshoot I ever did was in February of 2018. I shot in Orange Monkey Music in uptown Waterloo for the Black History Month portion of the magazine. My photoshoot was 70s/80s inspired, which called for a fun time. Despite being inexperienced and having no idea what the hell I was doing, I had a lot of fun and took a few great pictures. It was at this moment I began to become obsessed with the art of photography and was eager to learn more about it.

With each photoshoot I did I felt my photography becoming stronger. I’ve had the opportunity to shoot two concerts thus far- Ramriddlz and Daniel Caesar, and both were incredible experiences. Ramriddlz was pretty much the best first concert anyone could ever cover, because it was really laid back. We were allowed on stage with him, and there were points where he was just inches away from my camera. Daniel Caesar was by far more laid back. All of the photographers and I huddled in the cockpit to take pictures and they turned out great.

A lot of people always ask me if I ever get star-struck on the job, and the answer is no. Even when I attend concerts as a photographer, I can’t really enjoy the music because all my mind is set on is getting the right shot. When you’re about to complete a shoot, all you are worried about is getting good pictures, and nothing else really matters.

My first piece of advice is to learn as much as you can about photography. A YouTube channel that really helped to condition me on how to take great pictures is called ‘Mango Street.’ After studying their channel, I saw a drastic improvement in my photography. Their videos on critiquing photography really trained my eye to catch little errors that I wouldn’t have noticed before.

I have a few upcoming projects with some celebrities and a lot of people ask me how I got the job. Sometimes you can’t wait for people to come to you, you have to go to them. Build up an awesome portfolio and then email some people from management and ask if they would be willing to let you shoot. If your portfolio has other celebrities in it, celebrities are more inclined to work with you because it shows you  know how to act around famous people and you obviously also have some credit.

It’s harder to land a job doing orchestrated shoots with celebrities, so I would try and do some concert photography first and get used to shooting celebrities in that environment. If you get a job for a magazine or a newspaper, they most likely will send you on concert photography missions, if that’s what you request to do.

To reiterate, practice is the most important step of any of this. Photography can be a frustrating craft at times, and sometimes it can feel like your photography is as evolved as it could ever be. But there is always room to improve when it comes to photography and practice is the only way to achieve it. Make the right connections and put your photography in all of the right places.