all photos by Randall Slavin
Album covers, press shots, catalogs, advertising campaigns – entertainment photographer Randall Slavin has snapped a captivating portrait for them all.
Through all the amazing collaborations Artist Waves has done with music photographers, one conversation yet to be had was how to master a still portrait. That was until February 17th when acclaimed celeb photographer Randall Slavin was my guest on AW Live.
Slavin, a LA native has been behind the lens for such projects as Rob Thomas Atlantic Records press shots as well as shooting his Chipped Tooth Smile album cover. Chris Cornell’s Scream catalog and one of his infamous last photo shoots. Coca Cola campaigns. Charlize Theron at the dinner table. Patrick Mahomes on location at the beach.
Perhaps actor Jeremy Renner said it best in Slavin’s book We All Want Something Beautiful with the description – “Pure intimacy and truth of the individual spirit…this is the setting Randall has always provided for me personally.”
Describing how he found his way into photography after wanting to be a musician, Slavin then detailed his artistic process with me, in how he nails the perfect portrait.
I feel like a portrait photo is one of the hardest to take. What is a portrait like for you as the photographer?
A portrait to me is all about how would I want to be shot? Or how would I think Chris Cornell would look fuckin’ cool. I do not believe a picture can capture someone’s soul or give you insight into that person. I think it gives you insight into what you think that person it is. It tells more about the viewer than the subject.
I’ve always been fascinated by people and faces. Even when I shoot other things, I always come back to shooting people and capturing faces. It’s what I like doing long before I was getting paid to shoot. It’s harder for me when I get away from doing a portrait.
A style comes from you developing it without your consciously trying to. When you work a lot, you find what you do best and what comes natural and then that becomes your style. A great team all combines to make a final image look great. My style comes from working with the same people, but more so it’s organically in working with what I am good at. You can only shoot what comes organically to you. Nothing will be as strong or powerful as the things that come natural to who you are as an artist and how you view the world. A think my pictures have a certain quietness to them and a sadness to them a lot of times. For a long time, I didn’t know where that came from, that there seemed to be a running theme theme throughout my pictures- that there was a quietness to the person and an introspective sense. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really tried to make people laugh and have more fun in my photo shoots. For years, no one ever laughed or smiled in my photoshoots, my subject always seemed very lonely to me. Maybe I was lonely. I think there is an element to that, so that is what I projected in my pictures – a sense of aloneness.
Watch the full interview with Randall Slavin here: