Behind the Lens: Getty Images’ Most Prized Photographers

By Allison Duncan

The top photographers from Getty Images are some of the most celebrated celebrity/event/fashion photographers in the world. From shooting the cover of The World in Vogue: Peoples, Parties, Places to snapping photos at the Playboy Mansion to covering the Academy Awards, these photographers have seen it all. The Getty Images’ photographers have become household names in a notoriously competitive industry.

They honed their craft from a young age, realizing their passion for taking photographs early. Inspiration was around every corner. Dimitrios Kambouris, for instance, worked at a mom and pop camera store in Astoria, New York after high school, selling cameras and film. He soon became inspired by the craft and started taking photos of everything and anything in New York City, from Times Square and Rockefeller Center to The Empire State Building AND Central Park.

Their commitment to taking pictures has kept them relevant in an ever-evolving medium. Each photographer agreed that the change to digital photography has created a platform for nearly everyone with a digital camera or smart phone to be a photographer, so they have to work hard to continue to stand out.

“It’s obvious that photography has been changed by digital technology, but at its core, it will always be a visual medium so you still have to see and have some kind of vision of your own,” says Larry Busacca. “That vision can range from creating fully conceptual imagery or as seemingly simple as choosing the exact right moment to push the button on the red carpet, and it’s not as easy as it looks.”

It takes an exceptional eye to capture a great moment, and the Getty Images’ photographers explained the need for both a technical and creative background. Even more so, a strong photo evokes an emotion, both in the photographer and in the audience. “When I get a great photo, I just know,” says Jamie McCarthy. “It’s kind of hard to describe, but if someone else sees that photo and gets the same feeling, then I’ve done my job well.”

Photographers capture memories and tell stories through visual art, but the men vary in which stories they are most eager to tell. Andrew Walker is most fond of shooting celebrity portraiture and day-in-the-life stories because of the one-on-one experience, which he believes is an opportunity to collaborate and create something interesting. McCarthy, on the other hand, is partial to concerts and the Victoria’s Secret models, “for obvious reasons,” he says.

Regardless of their personal preferences, they agree that there are particular shots that are most popular with consumers. In the past few years, fan favorites have been celebrity event photography, especially traditional full-length photos. And what matters most to these photographers is that their photos are being seen and appreciated.

“What makes it worthwhile is when I see that the pictures are being used, seen and liked,” says Frazer Harrison. “There is nothing like seeing your work on the front cover a magazine while you’re browsing through the magazine racks at airports. I always want to sneakily sign it and leave, but I have not yet done that.”

Although the Getty Images’ photographers have their work seen by millions of people throughout the world, they also use their talents for personal moments, too. Harrison says that one of the most intense and emotional shoots he’s ever done is shooting his daughter Yasmin moments after she was born because he knew it was one job that he could mess up. It’s in moments like those that photographers realize they are part of the action even though they’re behind the lens.

“I never feel like I’m missing something; on the contrary, I feel like I’m more a part of the action,” says McCarthy. “I get to do and experience things that many photographers don’t get to do. Many of my subjects and clients treat me more like a guest taking pictures than just the photographer.”

Each photographer stressed the difference between a celebrity photographer and paparazzi; that is, the treatment of their subjects. Each of the Getty Images’ photographers has gotten to where he is because of his commitment to honoring the art of photography. Many of their best moments so far in their careers have come when a celebrity or client gives thanks for taking a beautiful photograph of them, and that’s what makes it all worth it.

Their inherent ability to find beauty has been the difference between one-time success and becoming a household name. “I think one of the factors that may have changed how beauty is defined is the sheer volume of imagery that is in our faces all day that attempts to tell us what and who is attractive or not,” says Busacca. “Much of beauty is personal perception.”

Although beauty may very well be in the eye of the beholder, there are certain moves that can help you look your best in photos. And while each photographer stresses the importance of practicing your poses in the mirror, Walker also advises that women place one hand on the hip, slightly turn your shoulders and cross your legs.

These men have seen it all, and their reputations precede them. Time and time again they’ve proven their worth in the photography industry, and each of them hopes to still be around many years to come. Perhaps Busacca says it best, “The best moments keep coming.”