As Canada’s top celebrity photographer gears up for another TIFF red carpet season, George Pimentel lets us in on the secrets behind the flashing bulbs.
You’ve been shooting TIFF for almost 20 years. How do you keep things fresh?
I go back to my roots. I try to create something other people don’t have, which is classic photography. Right now it’s all about tabloid, who’s dating who, who’s having kids with who … I like to shoot black and white, showing the stars’ glamorous side. I think people still crave to see that Hollywood beauty.
Tabloid photography has really exploded. Has it made your job more difficult?
Yes. I feel sometimes like I’m starting all over every day. With cellphones and YouTube everyone’s being documented, so celebrities are far more uptight about their public image. I’ve constantly tried to separate myself from that dark word “paparazzi.” I don’t like to make celebrities upset. I was never out there from the beginning hiding in the bushes.
Have you ever witnessed the evolution of a celebrity who started out with red carpet jitters, but blossomed into a posing superstar?
Every day. Believe it or not, Jennifer Lopez used to be like that. Nobody took her picture. Kristen Stewart was also like that. A few years back she was here with the movie Into The Wild, and no one knew who she was. Now that she’s big, I know she doesn’t like doing it, but it’s her job. The funny thing is, I actually train them. I’ve had celebrities try to do the red carpet and they don’t know what they’re doing. I’ll pull them aside and say, “FYI, don’t chew gum. Don’t scratch your face.” And they love that. They want to learn.
Any other tips for looking fantastic in a photo?
It’s all in your personality: Nice smile, chin up, and sex sells. Drop the shoulder, throw the photographer a kiss. Look at Snooki on the red carpet: She gets it. I can make more money off Snooki than off Julia Roberts.
Who are the most consistently photogenic stars?
Brad Pitt and Angelina will make sure everybody gets a picture. And they’ll do funny things, like they’ll whisper in each other’s ears because they know that’s the shot. And they’re not saying anything at all. It’s an old red carpet trick.