What it’s like to be a celebrity photographer at the Oscars

What it’s like to be a celebrity photographer at the Oscars - Entertainment - News

The Art of Capturing Stars: A Decade-Long Journey of a Red Carpet Photographer

The allure of the Hollywood red carpet can be traced back to 1922 when theater magnate Sid Grauman introduced this Tinseltown tradition at the premiere of “Robin Hood.” Ever since, stars have graced film premieres, festivals, and award ceremonies in couture attire, making headlines with their new looks or relationships, sometimes subtly hinting at breakups. Behind the lens, photographers play a pivotal role in documenting these moments for trendsetting and historical purposes.

Meet Chelsea Lauren, a red carpet photographer who has captured Hollywood’s most memorable moments for the photo agency Shutterstock for nearly a decade. Every year from January to April, she documents major awards ceremonies like the Golden Globes, Emmys, Grammys, Costume Design Guild Awards, and Independent Spirit Awards.

The Oscars, dubbed as the celebrity event of the year, are a spectacle like no other. With its 900-foot red carpet stretching down Hollywood Boulevard and into the Dolby Theatre, it’s an experience like no other for stars. However, the attention can be overwhelming; non-famous attendees take a less central route down the red carpet while the biggest stars arrive last. The chaos includes photographers vying for celebrities’ attention and live TV cameras rolling, making for a hectic environment.

Despite the noise and excitement, Lauren has built strong bonds with numerous celebrities over the years. Some have even become friends, like Paris Hilton (whom she photographed at her wedding), singer Janelle Monáe, and actor Colman Domingo. “He is the most beautiful, wonderful human being in the whole world,” Lauren gushes about Domingo.

The photographers at the Oscars also follow a dress code – long gowns for women and suits for men. Celebrities’ fear of sartorial mishaps is real, and Lauren recalls a memorable moment when she helped actor Daniel Kaluuya after someone spilled red wine on his suit at a pre-Oscars party. Despite unsuccessful stain removal efforts, Lauren helped sneak him out of the party to save him from further embarrassment. The following day on the Oscars red carpet, Kaluuya thanked Lauren publicly for her help.

While being a red carpet photographer may appear glamorous, it’s not without its challenges. From recognizing hundreds of celebrities to capturing diverse images, photographers like Lauren must multitask effectively. For the Oscars, she is only shooting arrivals this year due to her travel schedule for South by Southwest studio portraits.

Lauren’s career started as a hobby when she was growing up in the LA suburbs. She landed her first job at an agency after years of perfecting her craft, eventually joining Shutterstock. Over the past decade and a half, she’s witnessed significant changes within the industry, including an increase in gender equality and diversity among photographers.

As a woman in an industry dominated by men for decades, Lauren recalls the challenges she faced earlier in her career. “I don’t like conflict at all,” she shares. “Other photographers would try to push me around or claim their territory, but now I stand my ground.” Today, the gender split is closer to 50/50, creating a more welcoming environment for women and driving positive changes.

Reflecting on her experiences, Lauren expresses her gratitude for working alongside the world’s most creative, talented, artistic individuals: “It’s easy to forget when you’re in the midst of working, but if you take a step back from yourself, it’s like, ‘wow, I have a dream job.’ It’s really special.”