Ladefoged: Justin Bieber wasn't interested in being photographed at all. I was told that in addition to shooting the concert, I could have full backstage access. When I got there, they said I couldn't go into his dressing room where he stayed 95 percent of the time. Besides to go on stage, the two times he left the dressing room was to eat, and he said, "No pictures while I'm eating," and then to do a meet-and-greet with his fans where I was allowed to take a few pictures of him standing with some girls. I then had to do a quick interview with him for a video with the question who he thought was the most influential person of the year. He didn't want to do it, so I had to call TIME and tell them. They called his people and said he had to do it, so he did. When I turned on my 5D Mark II to record video, I have never seen anyone more professional than him. He was unbelievable in front of the camera. I was shocked. He wasn't standing in a good place for the light. I stopped him and said, "I'm sorry, the light's not good there. Can you move one step forward?" He said, "I'm a one-take guy." I showed him on the camera what it looked like, so he moved one step forward and did it again. He was even better the second time. He was unbelievable in front of the camera. After he finished the last sentence, he turned around, opened the door and yelled, "I'm out!" But he performed and was perfect. I recorded the sound with a RØDE mic plugged into the camera. More assignments like this are coming in requesting some video coverage as well.
DPP: I hope you didn't get the same reaction photographing the Pope.
Ladefoged: I didn't. The assignment was to follow the Pope during his visit to the U.S. I was at the White House with a hundred other photographers. We knew he would be walking from one part of the White House to the Oval Office. Then we went into the Oval Office in shifts of seven photographers at a time. I think I had three frames of President Bush and the Pope. Then we had to move on.
I shoot sports, I shoot portraits, I shoot reportage, I shoot advertising assignments, I shoot my little art stories. I'm working on an art book with the working title Time After My Time. I visit the places I lived as a child and take pictures of people living in my old room and homes. I go to my old soccer fields and take pictures of that at night. I went to my kindergarten and did a still life of a three-wheeled bike.
DPP: Sometimes "pure" photojournalists take exception to photographers who do reportage and more commercial or fine-art work. Life is diverse, so why shouldn't we be able to be a part of that?
Ladefoged: People ask me how can I shoot an advertisement for Gatorade with 15 people in my crew, then in the West Bank, then a portrait for TIME magazine. I try to keep my ethics high. We're living in a different time. Styles are merging. Art photographers are sometimes shooting in a more photojournalistic style.
Documentary photographers are doing portraits. The commercial world sees that the honesty and realism in photojournalism is something they need right now. People are fed up with superficial commercial work. They want more reality. "Can we believe in these pictures of this happy couple sitting in their living room drinking coffee?" I'm a photographer. I can put on different hats.
See more of Joachim Ladefoged's photography at www.viiphoto.com and www.joachimladefoged.com.
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