Over your shoulder

May 28, 2013

Cannes, France

By Yves Herman

“Over your shoulder, look at me, straight ahead, dead center, ooh la la, give me eye contact, sir, madam, on your right, big smile, show me your dress, you look gorgeous!” It’s all you can say to catch their attention, you need them to look straight in to the lens of your camera.

Yes, we are talking about the stars, the real ones, the big ones but also those who fill the pages of magazines. They can be actors, models, TV hosts or even socialites. They are popular and bankable for 1,000s of photographers standing on the red carpets in Cannes.

The annual Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera is the biggest film festival in the world. Running for 12 days, it garners the attention of thousands of reporters and the entire world of cinema fans. Press photographers from everywhere gather in the south of France, equipped with a bunch of cameras and all their lenses and flashes, searching to immortalize celebrities.


At Cannes, a film needs to be advertised and the cast members must be seen. The photocalls are organized especially for photographers, helping to promote the cast and the film. The stars know that it is part of their job to play the game and give us something to photograph. It can be an attitude, a gesture or sometimes even a little show, spontaneous or maybe prepared in advance by the cast.

The photocalls are like a Colosseum, where photographers can be compared to gladiators, adjusting their cameras like sharpening swords, ready to catch the “moment”. The moment of the photocall can offer glamour, touching seconds or sometimes boring minutes, when the stars don’t offer anything. Photographers exchange some words with the stars but the big show is for the red carpet.


Put on your tuxedo and wait for the start of the show!. Jewels, dresses; we cannot miss them, clients are waiting for those photos and fashionistas need to dream through our pictures. On the red carpet, the emotion can be visible. How impressive, even for celebrities, it is to climb these famous red carpeted stairs of the Cannes film festival palace and maybe get the ultimate award if the jury decides.

Photographers stand behind the ropes and search for personalities. Better to recognize them and try to instigate brief personal contact. It is the only way to garner a look and give the impression you are the only one photographing them. It makes people dream about sharing a private moment with celebrities when reading magazines.

The beauty of the dresses, details on very expensive jewels, portraits, attitude: anything can make a good picture if it is well photographed.

How do you deal with hundreds of people trying at the same time, and for a very short period, to attract the attention of the stars. There’s no choice. We must shout and shout again, to catch a look. Celebrities rarely do the same things twice and if they are asked to offer more, it is often less spontaneous. If you missed the moment, you missed it forever and can forget about what could be considered a “Picture of the Day”.


Charity events and sponsored parties are all good moments for celebrities to show up in front of the press and advertise their dresses and jewels. Believe me some jewels are unique and cost millions of euros. Some dresses worn by stars or famous models incite lust and attract potential new rich clients.

For most of us, this is only about stars and bling but the dream is a part of our life, so we take it as it is.

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