Studio Photography Design – January, 2006

WHITE ON WHITE – by Alice B. Miller

If you’re lucky enough to catch up with Timothy White between his projects and bicoastal commutes, as we did recently, you soon discover his passion extends to friends, family, cars, motorcycles–and his role in improving the lives of New York’s neediest.

Because he was our cover photographer back in October 2000, we asked White to update us on how his business has evolved, share any big plans for 2006, and offer any advice for today’s younger photographers. Here’s some what we discussed..

White on White

As 2005 was coming to a close, White seemed energized by holiday plans and projects coming to fruition in 2006. He told us about a major photo shoot innovation he had begun for long-term clients. “I’ve been shooting Tim Robbins, Harrison Ford, Nick Cage, Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, John Travolta, and Richard Gere since the ’80s. And it’s been getting tough thinking of something different, something new to shoot. So I’ve developed the idea of spending a day or two together with a client, during which we shoot the movie poster, the advertising, publicity photos, and any necessary imagery for the big magazines around the world.”

His recent four-day motorcycle trip with Brad Pitt is a perfect example of the plan in action. “We rode our motorcycles, my assistants followed with equipment. We’d stop, they’d catch up to us, we’d do some pictures then take off again. An amazing amount of work–and we had fun. My clients are starting to realize I’ve been doing this long enough and have relationships with enough people so when were together we cn get so much more done this way than they can the usual way.”

Our cover shot of Brad Pitt, a simply but edgy portrait, was taken during the advertising shoot for Mr and Mrs Smith in Los Angeles a little over a year ago. White composed the off-kilter image in camera on his Mamiya RZ67 Pro II with Profoto strobes, and an Elinchrom Octa Light Bank. That shoot was really emotional,” “A very close friend of mine, motorcycle guru Indian larry, had just passed away. Brad knew of him. We had a memorial planned immediatly, talking nonstop about my friend and motorcycles. It was a wonderful way to start a shoot. We were comfortable, and the mood was right.”

Throughout the day, they discussed White’s idea of a three-to-four-day photshoot/motorcycle ride. “Some weeks later, Brad called to say he’s trying to make the bike ride happen,” says White. “I couldn’t believe he was actually trying to put this thing together, but then I realized he was going through a lot with the press at that time and maybe what he needed was to get on his bike and go have some fun with someone he could relate to.”

The beauty of White’s plan is that everyone wins. White and the celebrity, in this case, Pitt, would retain full control of the hundreds of pictures they generate during their trip. And the studio would get plenty of stunning cover images and ad images to cover all promotional requests worldwide–images they never would have had otherwise–for covering the trip. As it turned out, the bike trip was a blast. Brad Pitt had a great time and White had 70 contact sheets of images, all approved by him, to give the studio. Fox agreed their had been well spent.Plans are in the works for other such shoots during 2006 and beyond.