Photographing Tommy Chong

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joshua huston, josh houston, tommy chong, portrait, on location, on assignment, portfolio, editorial photography, magazine, celebrity, headshot, freelance, seattleWho: Actor and comedian, Tommy Chong.

Why: Chong was in town and he stopped by a large office space located in the Pioneer Square district of Seattle that a friend of mine owns and rents out for events. Chong used the space to do interviews and a news conference with local stations. He was in town to promote his brand, Chong’s Choice. His hope is to become the Howard Shultz of the marijuana industry.

My friend reached out to me and asked if I could photograph the event so that he could use the images to show the space in use. I told him I’d photograph it for free if he could get me 2 min with Chong and it ended up working out!

How: This was the most crowded space that I have ever put lights up in. Everyone who wasn’t there to interview Chong, was there to try to get his autograph. There was another photographer (now friend) there too! Our sets were so close to each other that I was leaning on one of his c-stands during the photo shoot. It was quite stressful. I always get a little nervous when I have gear up in a public space, but this was almost out of control. For a moment I was actually reluctant to setup any gear. I knew however that this was a small chance I had to get a celebrity in my¬† portfolio and I needed to nail it.

The night before the shoot I stayed up late and studied all recent photos I could find of Chong’s face on the internet. I looked up his height and determined what style of lighting I thought would look best on his face. At the time I couldn’t decided, but I was leaning towards a light grey background. The day of the shoot though I quickly realized I had no safe way to setup a seamless with a room full of excited fans of Tommy’s. Thankfully, I was able to do something I saw another photographer do that I assisted recently . I flipped my largest softbox around and used it as the background. That’s right! That’s another light behind him shooting back at the camera. Then I put one medium softbox on his face for the key light.

I’m really happy and proud because in my opinion, I was able to have two lights in small area that created a really great high-key image. And my setup was safe in an insanely crowded space! I really love this image of Tommy. I’ve always, always wanted to photograph celebrities. I’m hoping that this image is the begging of more opportunities like this one! Just maybe minus the large crowds hovering around me and my gear.

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