Home / Blog / How to Photograph Celebrities Like… Madonna



Before I started this photography education business, I was a red carpet celebrity photographer here in New York City. The biggest red carpet I ever worked had around 75 photographers and 75 film and video cameras. It was an outdoor event, and the weather was gorgeous. Prince Harry was in New York City to play a benefit polo match, so we had the standard American media outlets as well as our European counterparts.

Madonna was on the guest list, and the talk amongst the celebrity photographers was whether or not she would walk the red carpet. Shortly after Kate Hudson walked and posed for us, word started to spread that Madonna would be arriving late to the party and would, most likely, not be posing for us. The photographers were disappointed.

You’d think that through all of this celebrity and glamour, I would have been focusing on my photography. I worked for a small agency with elite access at the time, so I was positioned near the start of the red carpet line. Instead of thinking about my images, though, all I could think about was cookies.

The agency I worked for had sent me and one other photographer. I worked the red carpet, while he was the only photographer allowed in the VIP area. I was happy about Madonna not walking the red carpet because I knew he would get some awesome shots of herβ€” and this meant our agency would have an exclusive on her images from this event.

I walked over to one of the security guards near the VIP area with one intention: to sweet talk my way into the VIP area to get some cookies. I had heard how good they were and I was starving. I forget what I said to get me past the velvet rope — something official sounding — and I went straight for the cookie table. Just as I spied what looked like a moist and delicious chocolate chip cookie, I noticed two black SUVs pull up to the VIP entrance.

I immediately guessed that it was Madonna; everyone else had arrived. My photographer instincts went into full gear and I just simply lifted my camera and started shooting. She walked right by me and was out of my sight in less than four seconds. I looked quickly to make sure I had captured at least one usable image.

Later that night, I found out that the other celebrity photographer with me, who was my associate inside the VIP area, never actually captured any images of Madonna. It turns out my shots of her were the only ones taken at the event and, as a result, one of my images of her was published in New York Magazine. As is often the case, the picture that showed up in the magazine was cropped so that only Madonna was visible.

I still have the original of that image on my computer, though. It’s an odd image and not like one of a celebrity you’ve ever seen. Madonna is in the image, of course. But a table that was between her and me at the moment I took the shot takes up most of the image. What you notice when you first look at the image, however, is all the cookies on that table. And how delicious they look.

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