Photography Grads Work ‘Backstage’ Shoot with Chris Messina

April 29, 2015

Immediately after graduating from New York Film Academy Photography School, Luc-Richard Elie began assisting full time for several Commercial Advertising and Editorial photographers while also interning at Sync Photo Rental. Six months later he opened his own Film and Photo Rental Studio called Concrete Studios LA in the Downtown Arts District. Luc-Richard’s work has been published several times both domestically and internationally, including photography work for the Australian Consulate.

Most Recently, he collaborated with fellow NYFA Alumnus and Army Veteran Liam Jager for the behind the scenes film to his Backstage shoot with actor Chris Messina from The Mindy Project.

The New York Film Academy caught up with Luc-Richard following his recent shoot for Backstage.

Luc-Richard Elie

How did you become involved with Backstage?

The Chris Messina shoot is actually my 6th cover for Backstage. My first involvement with the magazine came by way of another Photographer, Stephanie Diani, whom I’ve assisted on a number of editorial shoots with Backstage and at my studio in Downtown Los Angeles. During that process, I became acquainted with the Creative Director of Backstage, who by chance happened to see a glimpse of my portfolio. In October of last year, the magazine scheduled a shoot at my studio, but due to some last minute complications, lost the photographer the night before the shoot. The creative director, having seen my work, gave me a call and asked if I might be interested in shooting for the cover. That cover was for Gina Rodriguez (also her first cover) the star of the hit show, Jane the Virgin and now a Golden Globe Winner. I’ve been shooting for them ever since.

What were some of the challenges of this specific shoot with Chris Messina? 

With Chris there weren’t many challenges. He is very laid back and takes direction extremely well. He even offered suggestions, which made the shoot a collaboration and brought more energy into the overall experience. When we were moving between sets, Chris suggested we shoot in the staircase hallway. The lighting in the area was actually pretty bad, and the narrowness of the staircase didn’t really offer a lot of options to be creative, especially with the talent waiting and ready to go. So I gave some direction to my team and kept Chris entertained while all the lighting was being placed. It was important to stay loose and flexible in a situation like that. I pride myself on preparation, and staying cool when I’m thrown a curve ball. We were set up in about 10 minutes, and spent about 5 minutes shooting on the staircase before we wrapped for the day. Although it wasn’t originally planned, that shot ended up being the one used for the cover.

Would you say your training at NYFA was useful in terms of being prepared for a shoot like this one?

I’ve never used a DSLR or was actively in photography prior to NYFA. So, of course, just learning the basics of lighting and exposure is given. But it was the other intangibles that NYFA’s instructors prepared me for that have made all the difference. Always make sure you do preproduction prior to every shoot, and always be prepared to go off script.Very few things ever go as planned, but the better prepared you are the more success you’ll have in tackling obstacles. And most importantly, always display confidence and keep a cool head. Nothing can really prepare you for the feeling of having the creative director, the client, the publicist, make-up and hair, random assistants and especially the talent huddling around the computer and critiquing every shot you take as it come in.

How do you feel about the final results from the shoot? Did you get any feedback from Backstage?

I felt great about the shoot and the Art Director was pretty happy with the final results. I of course would have picked a few different pictures for the actually spread lol, But that’s just me being an artist and having an emotional attachment to some of my work. The magazine had a direction and voice they wanted for this particular article and I was able to provide the photos to support that vision.

Do you have another project or shoot in the works?

I just had some photos published in the New York Times and have some new work coming out in Angeleno Magazine this upcoming May. Aside from that, I’m gearing up to shoot a lot of personal projects for the summer. My goal is to shoot more Ad work for sports and lifestyle brands, so I’m spending a lot time working to revamp my portfolio to reflect that.