Why Are Celebrities Taking Photos On The Red Carpet? An Investigation

Olivia Ovenden
Photo credit: Frazer Harrison - Getty Images

From Esquire

The red carpet at the Oscars is one occasion where you can be confident that there will be enough photographs taken to memorialise the evening. You can leave your 35mm film at home. The sea of professional photographers flanking the red carpet have got this.

Perhaps this thought crossed the mind of one Timothée Chalamet, but it is one he quickly banished as he packed up his green disposable camera and headed off to the Academy Awards, pausing in front of the red carpet photographers to take a photograph of them.

Photo credit: Frazer Harrison - Getty Images

This turning the camera on the cameras – so arty! – is the same move which he pulled at Venice Film Festival in September. It is presumably meant to be subversive, flipping the photographer to being the subject instead of the artist. It's more than likely irritating for the people trying to get a sellable shot of a star to have their face obscured by a camera, but perhaps that is the point too. Sell this! I am an artist, not a still life!

Photo credit: Daniele Venturelli - Getty Images

When Frank Ocean pulled out his camera at the Met Gala in May 2019, it felt like a funny party trick. It also made sense, considering how press-shy the artist is. He wanted to hide behind the camera, instead of being its focus. The singer's curated and stylised photographs were later shared on Vogue as a snapshot for fans that gave them the view from beyond the velvet rope.

Smartphones have given us a stream of backstage footage from award ceremonies: group selfies in the auditorium and weird couplings in the toilets. Both Ocean and Chalamet have been known to post lo-fi photographs on their blog or Instagram accounts, going against the tide of high-resolution, FaceTuned images we normally see. Chalamet, opting for a disposable camera instead of Ocean's hipster Contax T3, takes the trend to a ridiculous extreme. Surely he isn't getting anything worth saving on a camera that costs $4?

Photo credit: Karwai Tang - Getty Images

It's a deeply affected mood, considering that fact that if Chalament was actually interested in documenting something, using his iPhone would have been more practical and produced better images. It would also have been a little too close to tourists frequenting M&M World. Instead, his happy snapping either makes a point about how disposable the red carpet it, or was just a way to troll the press corps, depending on how generous you're feeling.

Kanye, of course, did it first, pulling out an silver digital camera at a New York Fashion week in 2007 to capture the runway. We presume those are going to be displayed at MoMA any day now, right Ye?

Photo credit: John Parra - Getty Images

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