Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Kevin Gilbert - Reality Bytes
After a 20-plus-year career working in the news media, photojournalist Kevin Gilbert traded shooting the real West Wing for the one on TV
Shooting The Apprentice
“I've shot portraits of every cast member of all three seasons [of The Apprentice],” says photojournalist Kevin Gilbert. “The very first season, we didn't know it was going to be a big hit so we didn't do a lot of shooting. Now we're there every day in the suite, on tasks, on rewards, in Trump's helicopter, in his limousine. I have 24-hour-a-day access to them.”
Although it would seem like photographing a television show would provide plenty of opportunity to work with great light, Gilbert says it's actually quite dark. And the ambience isn't the only challenge; he has to work within the constraints of a television video crew.
“Other than when Trump walks into the boardroom, there's no lighting,” says Gilbert. “If it's fluorescent lights at 1⁄30 sec. at ƒ/2.8 at ISO 800, that's the light. No strobes, and you can't use motordrives; too loud. Sound is critical here for TV so we have to pick and choose our spots.
“I just duck when they walk by because there are four or five video cameras rolling,” he continues. “So I have to do this dance—we call it the reality show dance—where we have all these video cameras shooting, and I'm in there as well, trying to be quiet, staying out of the video's way, trying to be unobtrusive. And it's fascinating because it's these really amazing bits of documentary photography.”
Those amazing bits of photography actually are a time-consuming and consequently lucrative assignment for the Blue Pixel team, especially because The Apprentice has become so successful that the need for quality promotional images is extreme.
“We did 52 days on Apprentice 3,” Gilbert says. “That's 52 day rates—52 straight days with no days off. We shot portraits, we shot group shots, we shot Trump portraits, we shot all the tasks and rewards. Our first week-and-a-half of doing The Apprentice is absolutely nuts because there are 16 or 18 contestants and we don't know who's going to become a huge character, but they're fired on the second show and we need a ton of pictures of them in different situations—in portraits, in close-ups, by window light, looking left, looking right, and we can't set them up at all.
“We're just flies on the wall,” Gilbert explains of his Blue Pixel shooting team. “It's surreal because the only people who are allowed to talk to the cast are the producers and nobody else can talk to them. They trust us because they're in a bubble, and I'm inside that bubble. I become their friend because I become the public relations face for them.”
To learn more about Kevin Gilbert and Blue Pixel, the digital photography consulting company, visit the company's website at www.bluepixel.net.
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