At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Shutterstock hosted a portrait studio in partnership with Variety. Actors, directors, and producers from the biggest independent films of the year stopped by to spend a few quiet moments with us, away from the hustle and bustle of the festival.
The Shutterstock team went behind the scenes with Variety chief photographer Michael Buckner to learn more about his process for capturing the perfect portrait.
We asked Buckner to select his favorite shots from the four-day shoot. Here’s what he had to say:
“Chloe Sevigny was the first person to come through the studio and, except for lighting tests on my lighting specialist, I didn’t know what to expect. But she came in and gave me everything I could have wanted from her.”
“Don Cheadle is soft-spoken, serious, and very intimidating to me. He might be my favorite actor.”
“I told Kevin Smith to be the puppet master of Justin Long, Harley Quinn Smith, and Lily-Rose Melody Depp for the movie Yoga Hosers. It was the best direction I gave all week. I didn’t expect them to play along so well, but a great picture came from it.”
“Lily-Rose Melody Depp of Yoga Hosers is a model and the daughter of actor Johnny Depp. She hasn’t quite embraced the fame part of her life yet. While I was shooting her she kept tearing up because she has sensitive eyes, so I turned down the lights, took a step away, and let her breathe for a minute. Then this happened.”
“Taika Waititi of Hunt for the Wilderpeople came in for about 45 seconds, posed his heart out, and ran on to his next appointment. It was the fastest session, but close to the best.”
“I don’t know exactly how this picture happened. Viggo Mortensen and Matt Ross said, ‘Let’s act like we are being birthed out of Kathryn Hahn.’ I’m not sure what spurred Kathryn to act like she’s captaining a ship lost at sea while giving birth to Viggo and Matt. It’s very weird, I know!”
“In Southside with You, Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter play a young Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson in love. That’s what I was trying to capture.”
“I wanted to show Amandla Stenberg’s youth, but also her maturity. I love how the sphere of her hair is perfectly centered in the square frame of this photo.”
“Nate Parker was the star of Sundance, and you couldn’t meet a nicer guy. With the madness surrounding him and his movie Birth of a Nation, he seemed relieved to sit down for a few minutes. I think this photo captures that.”
“This picture of Boyd Holbrook and Elisabeth Moss was a complete accident. For reasons that cannot be explained, an extra strobe light turned on and fired. It lit up the backdrop beautifully, though, so I’ll take credit for it!”
“Kristen Stewart has a genuine mystique that can’t be cracked. Rather than breaking through it, I tried to show it.”
“Ben Schwartz said, ‘Let’s do something fun!’ So I told him to lie under the bench and act like he was stuck. Really, I just wanted to shoot him closer to the studio floor that I had constructed.”
For more photos from the Variety Shutterstock Sundance Portrait Studio, check out REX by Shutterstock. Follow @ShutterstockNow on Instagram and Twitter for images of today’s news, entertainment, and fashion.