Photographer Rob Latour on Shooting the 2020 Oscars

Photographer Rob Latour on Shooting the 2020 Oscars

We sat down with our own Rob Latour to discuss his experiences preparing for and shooting the Oscars.

Lady Gaga, Irina Shayk, and Bradley Cooper at the 91st Annual Academy Awards. (Image via Rob Latour/Shutterstock.)

Shutterstock: What does a typical Oscars day look like for you? How would you describe the atmosphere behind-the-scenes?

Rob Latour: Whether it’s your first Oscars or your fifteenth, the Academy Awards are an electrifying experience. This will be my fifth year shooting and there is always an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and delight in knowing that I’ve reached a point in my career as a photographer where I’m able to cover this prestigious event. It’s the culmination of hard work, on various events throughout the year, that gets us to this point. It’s just like for the producers and actors at the awards, while not every premiere is nominated in a category, you put your best effort into each one of these events. When I am there, I am part of a team that is a well-tuned machine that presents the best of the best.

In terms of what a typical day looks like, it depends on what you’re shooting — either the arrivals, the press room, or the show. In the past, I’ve shot the arrivals, which is always an incredible experience, where composure is key. I usually arrive around noon to be in position by 1:30, and stay there until around 3 pm, when the arrivals start. This year, I’m shooting the show, load in is usually around 3:30, and I like to be in position at least an hour ahead. Typical practice for me is to always show up early because no one likes surprises. I like to know everything ahead of time and be as prepared as possible. For the Oscars, in particular, there is strict security, so when I get to my assigned spot, I cannot move from that area. I have a dual-camera setup on a massive tripod. I also have a third camera setup for an ultra-wide shot. The spot is always pre-assigned. In the past, I’ve shot from the side balconies, where you’re able to get a nice perspective on the show, as well as a bird’s-eye view of the first few rows where attendees are sitting. In this case, I do most of my shooting on the commercial breaks, when celebrities in the first few rows are mingling and I can get more candid shots.

Olivia Colman at the 91st Annual Academy Awards. (Image via Rob Latour/Shutterstock.)

SSTK: There are so many stars arriving on the red carpet all at once. How do you make sure to catch everyone — and who are you most excited for this year?

RL: Arrivals can be a lot of pressure, but I prefer to look at the overall picture of the red carpet and try not to succumb to the intensity. By pacing my shooting with the images I know I want, it helps with the flow.

I am always so excited for everyone who is nominated because it’s an incredible accomplishment to celebrate as a career-milestone, as well as acknowledgment of all the hard work that has gone into the project.

Darren Le Gallo and Amy Adams at the 91st Annual Academy Awards. (Image via Rob Latour/Shutterstock.)

SSTK: Is there a lot of pressure on you? How do you deal with the stress and excitement on Oscars day?

RL: Yes, there is a very high expectation level. If you are on your game, then the pressure is only what you allow it to be. I always remind myself that I am part of a very talented team of photographers, editors, and technical support, who are with me every step of the way. Keeping that in mind allows me to enjoy working the event as much as the guests who are there to celebrate.

Brad Pitt at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards. (Image via Rob Latour/Shutterstock.)

SSTK: Everyone is waiting for another AnistonPitt reunion. You as well? Do you have a strategy to capture personal moments like this?

RL: There may be a moment; there may not be. If that type of situation happens, the photographer who is in the right place at the right time will capture that moment. All the planning in the world cannot predict those moments. Or, because of security issues, a photographer cannot have a credential for total access to everything at this event. For this reason, it is important to always be very prepared because they might happen to walk through the area you are credentialed for, and you want to be able to capture any split-second glances or movements.

Jennifer Aniston at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards.Jennifer Aniston at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards. (Image via Rob Latour/Shutterstock.)

SSTK: Who’s your favorite celebrity to photograph? And who is the most easy or difficult to photograph?

RL: Over the years, I have photographed many events. I can attest to one person, in particular, who has consistently been one of the most professional celebrities every time I come in contact with him. Tom Cruise has always shown the utmost respect to everyone at an event — including the reporters, photographers, the studios, and the PR — and made sure that everyone has what they need. No one else of that stature has displayed the understanding, and the willingness to support everyone’s needs, the way that he does.

Tom Cruise during the Paramount Pictures presentation, CinemaCon, Las Vegas 2018. (Image via Rob Latour/Shutterstock.)

SSTK: What are your best tricks in capturing the perfect picture?

RL: That question is easy to answer and very difficult to pull off. Think of any impressive nature documentary show that you have watched. They are capturing images that make you ask, “How did they do that?” Patience and luck. It’s important to remember to not take control, let it happen, and then the result looks natural and can be completely captivating.

Cover image via Rob Latour/Shutterstock.

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