Streiber: It started in fifth or sixth grade. My grandfather was a very advanced amateur. He had his own darkroom and processed black-and-white film and C-41 color negatives and made prints. When I was in eighth grade, he sold my brother and me his Canon AE-1 for $5 and threw in a lens for $2. I started taking black-and-white candids at school, and developing and proofing the negatives in his darkroom and making prints with him. Eventually, I became the photography editor of the newspaper and yearbook in high school. When I went to college, I joined the staff of the school paper. After college, I did an internship at the Riverside Press-Enterprise, then a traineeship at the L.A. Times. I thought I was going to be a photojournalist traveling the world looking for photo stories and places of conflict.
DPP: How did your career evolve into focusing on celebrity portraiture?
Streiber: I fell into first lifestyle photography, fashion photography and portraiture, and eventually celebrity portraiture. I started freelancing for Women's Wear Daily and W in Los Angeles. In about 1987, they needed a staff photographer. At the time, they also had a men's magazine called M. As the staff photographer, I had to shoot everything, from fashion and portraits to still lifes, interiors, travel stories and special events. After a couple of years in L.A., where I met my now wife, they transferred us to Milan where we were from 1989 to 1993. My love of all genres of photography comes from perhaps my being at the very beginning of my career a photographic jack-of-all-trades. We ended up back in L.A. in 1993.
I've always loved magazine photography. My great-grandfather started the first wholesale magazine distribution company in Los Angeles, and my grandfather worked there, my uncle and father worked there a little bit. On Saturdays, I would go down to the Sunset News Company warehouse. It was wall-to-wall magazines, everything from TIME and LIFE to Sports Illustrated to Richie Rich, Archie and Playboy. I still get that same kind of visceral response to the glossy magazine covers I had when I was a kid. I love contributing to magazines.
DPP: What changes do you make when you shoot in more of a reportage mode backstage at the Academy Awards® for magazine assignments?
Streiber: I'm shooting with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and I have an assistant holding an off-camera Quantum Qflash so I can give the light a little bit of shape. To get into that mode, it's quite natural for me to put on black jeans and a black fleece, and try and hide in the shadows and capture these moments that occur right in front of you at the Academy Awards®. I love this kind of documentary work, and I've always loved the Oscars®, ever since I was a kid. It's a real honor and privilege to be backstage in the days leading up to and the night of the Oscars®. I used to be the only guy back there. There are now five or six of us, so it's a little more crowded and the elbows are sharper, but there are amazing moments that you just don't have the opportunity to capture anywhere else.
You can see more of Art Streiber's work at artstreiber.com.
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