I asked him for an interview and he kindly agreed. So get ready to meet Mr. Axel Dupeux.
I am 32, I was born and raised in Paris, France, exiled in New York since 2005 and loving it.
I shoot portraits for editorial & corporate clients, sometimes for myself.
And a quick look at some of Axel’s work
Delroy Lyn, Broadway, Bushwick/ Personal project
Benjamin Rodriguez, Harman st. Bushwick/personal project
Robert Neuwirth, journalist for Ozy.com
Gary Gunn, musician for The Wall Street journal
Das Racist for Thrasher
Swizz Beatz, musician for Billboard
Mirrorball agency for Adweek
Axel was kind enough to answer all my 11 questions and provide some of the images from the shoot, which will be added along the interview below.
Without further ado, please read on the full interview complete with images:
The weekend pre-shooting was the worst of my life. I put a lot of pressure on myself because It was such a great opportunity.
I haven’t shot that many personalities of this caliber, it was for The Wall Street Journal where you know your photo is going to be seen, and — bonus point — It happened to be Jeff Bridges who I am a huge fan of so I really wanted to do good.
By the time I got to the studio on Monday, after a sleepless night and 4 pots of coffee, I was so hyper I could have asked the Dalai Lama to do a keg stand.
Photo Daily Dose: Do you think the fact that Mr. Bridges is a photographer himself had any influence in the result of the photoshoot? If so, do you feel it made your job easier or harder?
Axel Dupeux: That was actually more intimidating to me. Whenever I shoot a photographer, even a friend, I always feel like the guy is thinking “gosh I would do this so much better”. And he is in fact an excellent photographer.
It was all good in the end. He was very interested in the process, he even played an old twin lens camera that was there.
Photo Daily Dose: When shooting this kind of jobs, do you have some sort of a go-to lighting setup that you use most of the time or do you do it differently in every situation?
Axel Dupeux: It might vary a bit but it’s always as simple as possible. Don’t judge.
I just used the same one light set up for both images, the subject was boxed in between black v-flats with a slightly bigger soft lighter umbrella, relatively high above and a little before him with a bunch of white cards wisely placed.
I wanted a lighting that allowed him to move and I didn’t want too many obstacles between him and I.
Photo Daily Dose: What about pre-planning? What kind of research — if any — do you do for these shoots?
Axel Dupeux: I probably did less research than usual — like when I photograph an obscure finance guy — because I was so familiar with who he was. I looked at his photographs a lot, read a few interviews, and I imposed a little Jeff Bridges’ marathon to my girlfriend: we watched “Crazy Heart” and “The Big Lebowski” on Sunday night.
I did forbid myself to look at other portraits of him to avoid another panic attack.
Photo Daily Dose: What was the most difficult thing about this particular shoot? And the easiest?
Axel Dupeux: The easiest thing was definitely working with Jeff Bridges. As soon as he got on the set, it was ON! He was very professional, joking/jumping around, proposing poses, screaming, it was hard to keep up.
And he has this photogénie I had never witnessed before. It’s just not possible to take a bad picture of the guy, every angle is good, so it was really thrilling to just keep shooting good photos.
The most difficult thing was having to stop so soon.
© Axel Dupeux
© Axel Dupeux
Photo Daily Dose: If you had to describe your subject in a word, what would it be?
Axel Dupeux: The Dude!
Photo Daily Dose: OK, let’s talk about gear now: what did you use and why?
Axel Dupeux: I tend to use digital medium formats more and more. I still rent though; I used a Hasselblad H3DII.
Otherwise I use a Canon 5D mkIII. But I have nothing intelligent to say about it.
I shoot almost constantly with a 50mm or equivalent, I like to photograph in front of me if that makes sense.
Plus they traumatize you in french photo-schools with the whole Cartier-Bresson dogma, 50 mm/no cropping etc.
Photo Daily Dose: Any particular funny/awkward moment you want to share with us?
Axel Dupeux: At the very end, he grabbed my arms and just gently headbutted my camera. It was very cool. James Weber, who owns studio225, fortunately got a photo of it.
© James Weber
Photo Daily Dose: I’ve seen your portfolio and you have some amazing portraiture work. Is there any piece of advice you’d like to give to young photographers who want to do what you do for a living?
Axel Dupeux: Each time I talk to my mum before a job or a meeting, she tells me: “Be polite, tuck your shirt in.”
So there you go.
Photo Daily Dose: If you could choose the subject of your next portrait, who would you choose?