You've got to be spontaneous and be able to go with the flow when you're shooting some of Tinseltown's brightest stars. Just ask John Russo, who recently captured the zany antics of comedian Tom Green, the energetic enthusiasm of Meet the Fockers' Teri Polo, and the glamorous presence of Sophia Loren.Eric Benet for Warner Bros. Records Teri Polo, for Jezebel and Women's Health & Fitness Heath Ledger, for People magazine's 2004 50 Most Beautiful People Tom Green, for a MAXIM feature Shannon Doherty, for Australian Cosmo John Travolta, for the cover of Brentwood magazine Sophia Loren for People magazine, thanks to People staffers Beth Filler, Ann Tortorelli and Karin Grant Sylvester Stallone, for Japanese Cigar magazine Kelsey Grammar, for Parade
A sense of humor doesn't hurt, either. "I shot Kevin Costner for a Japanese client at a ranch in Los Angeles," Russo says. "Kevin was very quiet, as well as accommodating. I jokingly said to him at one point, 'These images are going to launch your career.' Kevin quickly responded, 'Do you think my career is in trouble?' I almost died- there was a moment of silence, and then he started laughing. He has a great sense of humor."
Russo was likewise extremely excited about his session with John Travolta. "When I got a call from his wonderful publicist, Samantha Mast, asking me to shoot John I was overwhelmed. He was outgoing, a wonderful subject to photograph."
It's precisely this ability to establish a comfortable relationship with high-profile, paparazzi-shy clients that has propelled Russo to the forefront of the Hollywood photographer's pack.
In addition to shooting covers for over 200 magazines and having his work featured regularly in People, he was recently featured in Billionaire, European Home and Garden, Controversy, Ocean Drive, Genre, Cosmo Girl, Complete Woman, and Australian Style magazines. He's a style specialist for E Entertainment's red carpet pre-show- for the Golden Globes, the Oscars, and the Emmys- and can be seen on Fox TV's Live Like a Star.
Creating a Comfort Zone
Prep work before a shoot is critical, and the proof is in the details. "Once I'm given an assignment from a client, my office starts preparing the production schedule," Russo explains. "I have three full-time assistants and a studio manager. My studio manager, Steve Kay, and I organize the catering, get approvals on hair, makeup, and styling from the publicist, and send everyone involved a production schedule. If the shoot is not at my studio, Steve and I scout locations and email digital images of the site to the client. On large productions, we hire an outside producer to help coordinate the shoot."