Learn the secrets of red carpet photography and getting the best shot of the night with Hollywood photographer Rob Latour.
Robert Latour isn’t your typical red carpet photographer, and he prides himself on that. He doesn’t like yelling at celebrities, and isn’t intimidated by them either. In fact, he doesn’t even consider himself a fan. He just loves taking photos and has a keen eye for knowing who and when to shoot.
As a staff photographer for Shutterstock, Latour has used this skill to photograph every major event—the Oscars, the Grammys, the SAG awards. You name it . . . he’s shot it.
There are always all types of people in attendance, including the Obamas, Tom Cruise, studio executives, and even the recent tidal wave of influencers. Because he isn’t hung up on or intimidated by starpower, Latour shoots all of these people with equal care, allowing him to develop a hefty and useful archive for future use.
I’m not a fan and most photographers are fans. I’m just a photographer, and I’m only focused on getting the right image.
As awards season comes to a close, we sat down with Latour to learn about how he became a red carpet photographer, the types of people and events he loves to shoot, and the surprising details of his process.
Here, we also show off some of his most stunning red carpet photography, straight out of Hollywood. If you’d like to explore Latour’s photos and more, check out Shutterstock’s Editorial Collection for the latest images and videos from award season.
Shutterstock: How did you get interested in photography?
Robert Latour: I grew up in a small town in south central British Columbia, and I started my career teaching math, physics, and chemistry. One of my fellow professors took up photography as a hobby and I thought, “Whoa, that sounds interesting.”
He had a full dark room and told me I was welcome to use it anytime. So, I went out and bought a camera and completely, completely loved it. To the point where I just quit everything and started doing photography. Eventually, I decided to take it seriously and went to photography school in California.
SSTK: How did that turn into becoming a red carpet photographer?
RL: It’s funny, I didn’t even know the red carpet industry existed. I worked in commercial photography. I was a studio photographer and I used to shoot print catalogs—fashion, constantly. And I wasn’t that involved in celebrities, although they would bring some of them to the studio for fundraising, so I’d occasionally interact with them.
Then, when digital started to take hold, the industry went through a metamorphosis and the bottom of the market fell out. Most commercial photographers at the time, including myself, found ourselves having to rethink and redo.
Around that time, I ran into another photographer who was involved in entertainment and offered to introduce me to a few people who got me on the carpets. I became a staff photographer at Shutterstock a few years later.
SSTK: What’s the hardest part of shooting red carpets?
RL: I’m in Los Angeles, and out of the four hubs where red carpets take place (London, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles) celebrities dislike Los Angeles the most because the photographers here are, well, the “rudest” is the quickest word that comes to mind.
And, I personally don’t like being around yelling and rudeness either. I much prefer shooting shows, and that’s the bulk of what I shoot—the SAGs, Oscars, Grammys . . .
SSTK: What kind of prep work and research do you do to prepare for a red carpet or event?
RL: I don’t do any pre-work. The bulk of the time I never know who’s going to be there. Again, for me it doesn’t matter who’s there. I don’t consider myself a fan.
There is a term in red carpet photography called “meat and potatoes.” The money-making shots. And getting those shots is one of the things I’ve been either cursed or blessed with. I’m good at (capturing) meat and potatoes–full length, straight on fashion looks, smiling, headshots.
Also, I shoot everybody. Some photographers, if they don’t want to shoot somebody, they just play on their phones or turn their backs. There’s so many people they don’t want to shoot, especially the influencers that are taking over the carpets.
But, I’m the opposite. I shoot every single person that walks the carpet, as long as I have their name. And, if I don’t have their name, I still shoot them and I’ll archive them, and Shutterstock gets the archive. That way, if someone asks if a certain person was at an event, I can tell them to just look them up in the archive.
It’s happened a few times where I’ve shot people that nobody else has—I think I just saw an example of that the other day. It was a former Disney executive (Dave Hollis), who just passed away. He was only 47 years old. And I think I was the only one that had a shot of him.
SSTK: Is there anything that might surprise people about your process?
RL: I work a lot of hours. Part of that is shooting, but the bulk of it is editing. The reason editing takes so long is that I’m not an editor. I don’t know Photoshop. I don’t know how to do any of that stuff.
Anybody else can look at a small red carpet and name everybody in probably an hour or two hours, but it would take me four. Even after all these years, I haven’t developed a flow that works.
SSTK: Who are your favorite people to photograph?
RL: I much prefer shooting executives over celebrities. Anyone involved in the studio industry, I really, really enjoy shooting. Even now, when there are panels or talkbacks and stuff like that, I usually either request them or get put on them—because, again, I have a bit of a different take on them.
I don’t sit at the back and just shoot them—I try to get involved in them. I’m literally on the sides of the stage isolating certain people for shots, while making sure there’s context for where they are.
I just prefer to do things a little differently.
SSTK: What has been your favorite shoot of the last year?
RL: Every year I shoot the SAG Statue Pouring, which takes place at the foundry where they make the status for the SAG awards. There’s usually lots of photographers there, but this year I was the only still photographer, which allowed me to take a completely different approach and do it in a completely different way.
I was able to just do what I wanted to do, and when they started going through the images, they loved what they saw because it was so different. Whenever I go somewhere and I am the only photographer there, I try to create something that’s completely different.
SSTK: We have to ask . . . Who are your favorite celebrities to shoot? Do you have any interesting stories about them?
RL: There’s a lot of people I respect for their professionalism—Barack and Michelle Obama come to mind. And I always say Tom Cruise.
There’s a few other celebrities that I really respect. I’ll always walk up and introduce myself ahead of time, especially if it’s not a red carpet, but a party or an award show or something like that.
I’ll tell them that I will probably be around them a lot and I’m sorry, it’s just something I have to do. And they really appreciate that. I never see any other photographers doing that. Everybody else is just hustling.
But I always feel like the respect you show is the respect you get back.
To see Latour’s work, along with this year’s hottest Hollywood premiere, award show, paparazzi photos, and more, visit Shutterstock’s Editorial Collection.
License this cover image via John Salangsang/HCA/Shutterstock.