Joe Pugliese Expects the Unexpected
Joe Pugliese has been on fire this summer. A veritable catalogue of editorial work has culminated in an incredible collection. Three of the projects we’re most excited about were his shoots with Andy Samberg for Outside Magazine, David Chang for Wired, and Ariana Grande for Billboard. “They are all people who have been photographed many, many times, and all of them came with their own set of expectations,” says Joe. With each personality comes a different kind of shoot and Joe was able to adapt to each of them.
As an actor, Andy Samberg is known for his incredible skill of bringing the unbelievable to life, shaping characters that are riotously funny. But Joe wanted to go in a slightly different direction. “I don’t consider myself a comedic photographer, so I asked Andy that while I wanted it to be a funny situation, I wanted his expression and feeling to be one of sincerity and introspection,” Joe explains. “I kept referencing Buster Keaton as being a great stone face. Andy can pull that off. He’s funny to look at. You just know that hilarity will ensue.” Joe stepped back and let Samberg’s natural energy take over, resulting in images that are more subdued than what we’re used to seeing of Samberg, revealing something about this famous face that’s entirely fresh.
On the other side of the spectrum, David Chang is a naturally subdued person. That quieter energy presented an opportunity for them to create something a little subversive. “We laughed and joked about how obvious a knife is for a chef photo, but honestly he is comfortable with that identity and I think he took to it in a more relaxed way,” says Joe. “He wanted to be genuine and that’s what I was after as well. He’s not trying to fit into the mold of anything and I didn’t want the shoot to fit into the mold of a chef shoot.” They took a trope often used in food personality photography and turned it into something of a self-effacing joke while displaying confidence. These images are working on many levels, just like Chang’s food. You can take the bits that taste good to you.
Ariana Grande is no stranger to playing to the crowd, routinely performing her music to thousands of fans. She’s not shy. So when she arrived on set with her own ideas Joe was ready to listen. “She really guided the creative decision to do the head wrap in the towel shot, that came out of the blue on set,” says Joe. “She really had a thing for these glasses and we didn’t know that she was bringing them. She really wanted to play with that type of wardrobe, it’s kind of like a Breakfast at Tiffany’s kind of feel.” It was a unique moment, and one that Joe knew how to maximize. He remained agile to take the best of what was in the moment and turn it into something beautiful. When you photograph as many personalities as Joe does you have to expect the unexpected.