Marc Hom Gets Intimate with Bob Shaye for Space Magazine
Most people may not recognize Bob Shaye to look at him, but everyone knows the biggest risk he ever took: Freddie Krueger. When Wes Craven was first formulating the idea of A Nightmare on Elm Street it was Bob Shaye who took a risk on the struggling director and made the movie happen, changing the horror genre forever and cementing New Line Cinema as a force to be reckoned with. As the years went on, New Line Cinema became a juggernaut with Bob Shaye at the helm making him one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. Photographer Marc Hom goes way back with Bob. “Bob is a very old friend of mine, and he’s a friend of my father’s from back in the 60s before he started New Line Cinema,” says Marc. “After I moved to New York we became good friends.” When Space Magazine got together with Marc to shoot a feature on Bob, Marc wanted to use that relationship as a way to tap into something deeper and get a more honest portrait.
They met at Bob’s home in the Hamptons, a residence that is unique to Bob’s style and has a relaxed atmosphere by design. But Marc wanted to ensure that each photograph brought out something authentic in Bob, so he tailored the production of the shoot to foster that attitude on set. He kept the crew spare so that the communication could be just between him and Bob, with the results in the frame. “It is a more personal, intimate portrait. I thought to just build on that scenario that would be really nice,” explains Marc. “So it was a really low key and quite intimate setting. It was actually quite refreshing. We didn’t have to maneuver around so many people. I could basically just do what I wanted to do, which was great.”
It’s obvious that the way Marc was about to get such intimate portraits is because of the way they set up the shoot, but without the cooperation of Space Magazine, it would have been impossible for Marc to get such intimate portraits. He credits the magazine for enabling such a personal experience. “There’s a much bigger freedom with smaller magazines. And I also think that sometimes people get timid when there’s 25 people around looking at them,” says Marc. “You get to get some more of the soul because people open up in a different way, which is really great. I love that. When you have an idea it’s about executing it and getting it out instead of keeping it inside of your head.” Creative success is all about finding the right partners, and Marc and Space Magazine worked together exactly the way they needed to in order to get the best results possible.
Marc Hom Proves Charlie Hunnam Is King for Entertainment Weekly
For most, their introduction to King Arthur is the story of the sword in the stone. Arthur, a peasant boy, ends England’s Dark Ages when he draws a mystical sword (Excalibur) from a stone, beginning his reign as king. The truth is far more complex. Guy Richie’s forthcoming film, Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur, examines these tales with Charlie Hunnam as the epically beloved king of epic. Richie’s energetic style is poised to recontextualize these classic stories for all lovers of legend placing a huge weight on Hunnam’s shoulders, one that his fans are certain he can uphold.
When Marc Hom met Hunnam on set for Entertainment Weekly’s cover shoot, it was an exciting experience for everyone. They were on the verge of wrapping up principal production for the film, and the mood was jovial. Marc’s goal was to find where Charlie Hunnam and King Arthur met in one man. After working on this character for so long, the line between actor and character is bound to blur and in that space is room for authentic moments. “We actually got full access to go on set which was incredible,” explains Marc. “Just that freedom to take it out of context a little bit: that was what I wanted to do. So it didn’t feel like a still photograph from the movie.” By finding where King Arthur and Charlie Hunnam merge they were able to present that moment with compelling imagery.
The obsession with image that has dominated the conversation of celebrity over the last decade seems to be falling away, at least in Marc’s experience. And everyone stands to benefit from being generous collaborators. What Marc noticed most about working with Hunnam is his willingness to work with Marc as a collaborator. “This generation of actors is more open to going for the ideas and being a little looser,” Marc explains. “Charlie was really great. He was in a very good mood. Everybody was very happy.” That positive set meant authentic moments came through making for photos that pair perfectly with EW’s aptly named story, “The Sword and the Stone Cold Fox.”
Marc Hom Keeps it Moving with Mika
If you’re familiar with the work of Marc Hom, you’ve become accustomed to dramatic images with rich colors and luxurious lighting. There is a stillness that suffuses his work, a calm passion that is signature to Marc’s photographs. But for his latest cover with Vanity Fair Italia, Marc went in a slightly different direction.
“There's movement to it which I like. It's a bit more loose than other things that I do,” says Marc about his latest cover with Vanity Fair that features European music sensation Mika. Mika expresses himself in many different arenas, and operates with a distinct intensity. But for this shoot, the two artists met in the middle and worked off each other’s creative impulses. Mika and Marc have worked together before, so they already had a rapport walking into this shoot. That helped them jump right in and get started. The last time they worked together, they created images that really sang Mika’s creative energy. When Marc compares this shoot to the last time, he says it’s, “Not so extreme, not so elongated in his poses. A little bit more straight forward. A little bit less quirky.”
Mika is known for his explosive energy, so he and Marc found a way to be honest to both of their ways of working. In developing a pared down experience, Marc and Mika got to the root of their collective passions and found a natural stillness at the core. “I think there was a certain effortlessness to it which is always great,” says Mark. “Mika knows what he likes. I think we just have good communication with where we want to take pictures. When that’s in place it offers another kind of freedom to do what you want to do,” says Marc. As their creative relationship develops, they’re able to follow different lines of inspiration and energy, composing images that are unique and honest.
Even though the images offer a calmer quality than what we usually see from Mika, Marc made sure the energy on set stayed high so the images would remain dynamic. “When you work fast you keep the rhythm up - I like that. We didn’t take too long between each change and you just keep going.” The constant flow of communication between Mark and Mika made for a collaboration that was honest to both of their styles, and a look at their shared work.
Marc Hom Is All About Trust
In one month, Marc Hom has two covers releasing for Vanity Fair Italia. For both he photographed some of Italy’s most beloved movie stars, starting with Raoul Bova, and then the ever-elegant Margherita Buy. Marc’s portfolio is already a deep archive of celebrity portraits, but Italy’s film community is a little different. Marc is building his relationships there, and those relationships are built on trust. “It’s all about a trust to get someone to get comfortable,” says Marc. “There’s so much that goes into these intimate moments when you photograph somebody.” Both Raoul and Margherita's distinct personalities suffused each shoot with their personalities, and it was up to Marc to capture those for each cover.
Photographing film stars presents its own set of challenges. Marc is obviously shooting static images that provide a decidedly different point of view from film. But each of these movie stars is most adapted to a more fluid style. “They’re used to moving and being free to move around, walking from one place to another. So I try to make the same scene as if it were a movie,” says Marc. “Make them not think that they’re doing a still photo but more a moving element.” He creates actions around the set, and keeps the whole production agile so they can follow the whims and energy of the actors on set. Actors live in front of cameras; that's what an actor's job is. They take on the lives of their characters and then forget the crew is there, offering a performance that is intimate and breathing. Marc's setups allow for them to continue that process they know, playing the part of themselves in a natural way.
Shooting Raoul was particularly exciting for Marc. “He was just really good,” says Marc. “He really took directions well. I had an idea with the blinds and the light which created a small element to the image that gave it just a little spice. I really liked that and he did too.” The cover with Raoul is the perfect example of what happens when a photographer and subject work together seamlessly. Each brings the elements only they could: Marc's compositional vision pairs with Raoul's generous moment and they capture an ephemeral moment, crystalizing it on the cover of Vanity Fair.
Marc Hom Keeps the Empire Fresh
Marc Hom is no stranger to shootings stars. Whether it’s Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o for People Magazine, Benedict Cumberbatch for the cover of ELLE, or Lauren Cohan for GQ, working with well-established actors is a well trod path for him. A major part of his job during those shoots is to connect with them in personal and intimate ways to draw out sides of these familiar faces we’ve never seen before. But most recently, when he shot the cast of FOX’s break out hit Empire for Entertainment Weekly, he had a completely unique experience.
The unexpected rapid success of the show is very exciting for everyone involved, and that was something that Marc got to play off of in the shoot. “It’s a phenomenal success,” says Marc about the show. “It’s a big thing for them. In that sense they were super happy. You can almost feel them being a family even if you saw them off set.” These are actors that work with one another every day, acting in circumstances that are incredibly heightened and emotional. The stakes are high on screen, but when they’re together off set it’s a totally different energy.
That energy, combined with the fresh excitement for the success of the show changes the way Marc gets to work with the actors. It becomes a fun experience for everyone involved. “It just gives a positive energy,” says Marc. “They’re really into it. So it’s not like you have to force people to do certain things. It’s nice to enter a shoot where things are fresh.” It becomes a much more collaborative, relaxed experience while the actors work off one another with no added drama.
When it came to the aesthetics of the shoot, Marc wanted to reflect these faces in a familiar setting. “The whole thing was to recreate the atmosphere of the show, I kind of wanted to elevate it a little bit up in terms of the styling,” says Marc. “It reminds me very much of an eighties show. It has this bitchy element to it which is quite entertaining.” By bringing the actors out in a way that reflected their success gave them a platform to express themselves. Marc was able to show off these famous figures in a way that emphesized their accomplishements while keeping it comfortable and familiar.
Marc Hom's Collaborative Convergence
The measure of an artist is not what they can build from the whole resources of the world, but rather how much they can make out of very little. Creators create, using whatever they have placed in front of them, crafting their materials into ideas that transcend the limits the rest of us see.
The couture-style Danish fashion brand Stine Goya approached Marc Hom asking him to shoot their latest campaign. It was a natural fit for Marc, who is from Denmark himself, especially when they chose Oh Land, the Danish singer-songwriter as the model for the campaign. “Everything fit really well together. It was a good match,” says Marc on the collection of talents that were assembled for this shoot. “I think the fit of the two, was really, really great for Stine Goya as a designer and Oh Land as a musician.” Each of the three talents that took part in the campaign are so clearly visible in each photograph.
The unique energy of Oh Land permeates strongly through the images, reaching through the frame, lending the perfect emotional movement to Stine Goya’s designs. Those pieces reflect the bold and saturated colors in the set, so signature to Marc’s style. By drawing elements from each artist involved, the collaboration comes together elegantly highlighting the strength from each of the collaborators.
Upon careful inspection, it becomes evident that the set Marc shot on was rather small in terms of scale, but that wasn’t a challenge for Marc. In reality, the frame of a photograph is a sandbox to fill at will, so he used the knowledge of his craft to keep each image unique. “After one or two shots either I would move angle or we would put new sets in,” explains Marc. By continually moving and reframing, the baseline of each image is unique, while playing in the same color palate. “Gold, a little bit of the pink, the lighter colors - it’s very much Stine Goya’s color palate.”
The collaboration was able to happen in such concentration because just three minds were coming together to converge on this one campaign. These more focused projects are precious to Marc and his creative process. “It’s important for me to keep doing independent brands, in addition to larger brands,” says Marc. “It’s fun when it’s a smaller group of people who make the decisions.” By keeping the entire creative team close together, they were able to take the risks that best showed off their strengths, resulting in the rich images of the final campaign.
The Real Wiz Khalifa
A photographer’s work is to show us his subject. Every audience approaches a subject with preconceptions, judgments, and a cultural filter. If they are known to their audience, they bring that audience baggage and history with their gaze, coloring every experience. Photographers get to recontextualize all that. For some photographers, an image is an opportunity to show their version of the subject. Through framing and composition, the photographer has the chance to show the audience their version of the person they’re shooting. It can clear up misconceptions, correct the record, or indulge whatever expectations exist.
To look at Wiz Khalifa, for those who are not familiar to him, his style is unique and aggressive. It’s daring as much as it dares you to take umbrage with it. But for as assertive as his look is, when Marc Hom shot him for the cover of Office Magazine, he wanted to show the Wiz that he’s known for years. Marc shot the cover of Wiz’ 2012 album o.n.i.f.c., and the Wiz he knows is of a different ilk than quick judgments would permit. “The first time I photographed him I really liked that album, it was almost like a modern Bill Withers,” Marc says. “Wiz had a really distinguished voice. There’s something quite sincere about him that I really like.” Wiz names Jimi Hendrix as one of his biggest influences, so it stood to reason that he and Marc went to Electric Lady Studios in New York City for their shoot.
The two artists met inside and started shooting in the shadowy, intimate studio created for Hendrix, attuned to his sensibilities. The shoot was a mere four hours, but they went through at least six looks. “People like him, you’ve got to be really quick. He knows what he wants. So we started inside, and then went outside for variation,” Marc explains. “That gave the story a little bit more air.” That air allowed the space to show off Wiz in a way that was accurate to Marc’s experience. It was the perfect opportunity to set the record straight for those who aren’t already familiar with the musician. “He’s a really, really sensitive guy. He’s super appreciative, he has a great sense of style, but he’s a very good listener,” Marc says. Those are all crucial qualities to be a successful artist, and skills Marc had to employ to get an honest portrait of his subject.
Marc Hom Shows the Other Side of Benedict Cumberbatch
Despite a litany of severely serious roles, the Benedict Cumberbatch that fans have gotten to know is deeply charming and playful. His energy is as high as his craft and he’s as quick to a laugh as he is to a genuine moment. But his latest film, The Imitation Game, is nothing to laugh at. Taking on the role of Alan Turing, a man who changed the course of World War II and was paid for his achievements with being branded a criminal (for unrelated reasons), is a somber responsibility and Benedict’s skills match the seriousness of the task. Elle UK channeled that solemnity for their recent cover featuring the star, and they picked Marc Hom to show off that side of this charmer.
Benedict’s fame is relatively new, but he’s someone Marc has been watching. A viewer of BBC’s Sherlock starring Cumberbatch, Marc has been taken by his unique look. “In one way he’s old fashion, Hitchcock-like,” he says. “And in another way he’s just a mysterious person, he has an elegance but he’s intriguing. There’s definitely a different layer than the rest of the pack out there.” As a photographer, Marc interacts with famous people almost every day.
If Marc is not shooting a cover, he’s shooting features on upcoming blockbusters or pieces about our favorite stars. His challenge is to connect with these celebrities and pull something honest out of them that we don't normally get to see. With Cumberbatch, it wasn’t a challenge. Marc was immediately struck by Cumberbatch’s intelligence. “What was so refreshing is that I was working with a person who is extremely well read,” Marc says. “Someone who has training going back to what actors used to have in the British theatrical tradition. There’s a maturity about him.” This is someone whose focus has been the work he’s doing, and doing the work well. It’s not about fame, it’s not about money, it’s about the craft and doing good work. So Marc and Cumberbatch did good work together.
“It’s nice to work with people who have the openness to be a good listener and play ball with the ideas,” Marc says. “He’s very comfortable in his own skin. He seems like he’s in a very good spot at the moment.” That comfort allows for a totally different quality in the shoot. Marc explains: “There’s a certain kind of effortlessness about it. It’s organic.” As viewers, we end up seeing a version of Cumberbatch that is honest, unfiltered, and candid. With someone like Cumberbatch, who has quickly amassed an enviable career in a lengthy list of smash hits, it’s easy to be pigeonholed into a shallow and singular identity. But the truth is far more appealing.
Marc Hom Reveals The True Story to People Magazine
Stories are all about relationships. The actor’s trade is to form relationships with people they don’t know, and dive into them on screen for the benefit of the viewer. It is acrobatics of the heart, and perhaps the most crucial work an actor does. When Billy Magnussen and MacKenzie Mauzy were gearing up to appear in the movie musical Into the Woods with Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, they had to meet each other for the first time. Every relationship starts with the first meeting, we all know first impressions are key. And since MacKenzie was to be the damsel in distress Rapunzel, and Billy her prince, this relationship was going to be important. According to People Magazine, Billy’s first thought about MacKenzie was: "I was like, 'Oh, she's cute!'" MacKenzie was a little more coy, saying, "He's not so bad." MacKenzie had to find something to love pretty quickly to sell the relationship to the viewers. And she did.
When Marc Hom caught up with the pair for the feature in People Magazine, they got intimate very quickly. In the musical, Rapunzel’s prince falls in love from a distance, so it stands to reason their relationship would start off the way it did, with Billy feeling an immediate attraction, and MacKenzie taking her time. Marc was sensitive to the dynamic and ensured it would appear in the images.
The moments that Marc shot show a couple who are confident, but Billy presents a clear protective streak for MacKenzie. Whether it’s offering a coat, a steady arm, or a place to relax, Billy reflects his prince in their dynamic. MacKenzie is soft, feminine, but pulsing with energy, projecting self-assuredness and comfort.
Marc has made a name for himself highlighting the inherent grace and power that comes naturally with being a woman. He has shown in campaigns that every woman is powerful, beautiful, and worthy of respect and admiration. But relationships are equal, and as powerful as femininity can be, masculinity can be just as graceful. Billy’s look is strong, but boyish, prototypical of a prince. There’s an elegance and openness, to him. An invitation. And Marc dialed it up for the shoot, positioning Billy in ways that he could be vulnerable as well as strong.
As artists work together and create relationships for roles and performances, sometimes that work spreads into reality, creating a brilliant residue that lives on after the final cut. The filming for Into the Woods completed months ago, but the relationship that Billy and MacKenzie built lives on in their behavior, and in front of Marc Hom’s lens, to be appreciated for the beautiful story it creates.
Marc Hom's Sensual Zombie Killer
Marc Hom's objective is clear: he wants to make women look beautiful. When it’s a woman like Lauren Cohan, star of AMC’s The Walking Dead, for GQ it’s not a stretch and doesn’t take too much work. But it does require a little bit of direction. “What I wanted to do was really take her away from the whole Walking Dead thing and it’s really just about portraying her as a beautiful woman and somebody who is just very womanly and attractive,” says Marc. “And really a woman more than a little girl.” We’re used to seeing Lauren Cohan as an unwashed warrior, fighting her way through landscapes of the undead, with shovels and guns. She’s frequently covered in dirt and blood. It’s not the most becoming look for anyone.
That aggressive energy fits who Lauren is as a person. “She’s a little bit of a Tom Boy,” Marc explains. “This was my chance to bring in the sensuality of her and do something sensual without going overboard.” So Marc did what he set out to do: he pulled her out of over worn flannels, and fit her into old Hollywood glam bathing suits. Then they left the backwoods of Georgia and opted for the more indulgent scape of Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles. “It’s funny because it looks like a combination of the south of France, and the canyons of LA,” Marc says. “As a combination it’s got this sun-kissed feeling.” It was the perfect feeling for building the tone Marc wanted.
On many shoots, especially those for a star like Lauren, there are a lot of people on set. Assistants, content directors, agents, PR folks. Dozens of eyes on a multitude of interests, making sure that everyone is as happy as can be. That kind of population can sometimes get in the way. But not for Marc and Lauren. When they were shooting, it was like they were the only two people on set. "That is what was really cool about these pictures," Marc says. "She was just very open minded, didn’t hold herself back." For a lot of us, this is our first time seeing Lauren in a way that is so sensual and sophisticated at the same time. For Marc, that's par for the course. Luckily, he showed us this side of Lauren.
Marc Hom Bucks Tradition for Authenticity
Marc Hom has spent the last few decades photographing some of the most famous, recognizable, and beautiful faces in the world. It has helped him to build the tools and relationships to photograph anyone he wants, in almost any situation. But when it came time for the campaign with the German lingerie company Triumph, they went in a completely different direction.
Even though Marc could get anyone in front of his lens, with Triumph they decided to photograph real women who weren’t models. It was a specific and calculated choice. “I find it very fascinating to make real women look incredibly sensual and beautiful," Marc says. “Beauty really comes from within.” Of course any model or famous face would have looked fantastic in Triumph's collection. But they wanted something authentic, surprising, and empowering.
The casting included women from all walks of life, all in different places on their journeys. They represented different races, different age groups, and therefore, different ideas of what is beautiful. “Every woman has her own inner beauty. It’s up to me to find it, or for her to come forward and be relaxed about having a picture taken.” It was Marc's job to connect with these women in ways that could comfort them and bring out the beauty they already had.
Maybe Marc's work with Triumph offers a lesson for all of us. As Marc says, “I think if you’re happy and you’re confident and you feel good inside: that’s what makes a beautiful woman.”
Marc Hom Finds Something New for Tatler
When Marc Hom approaches a new subject, he tries to discover something new. When he shot Jessica Brown Findlay, the celebrated actress from Downton Abbey, for the cover of Tatler he wanted to help her break away from the character her fans have grown to love. “You don’t want to see her the way she’s been seen for a long, long time,” he says. “I want to portray the beautiful, sexy woman that she is.” And truly, this is a departure. Even though her character on the BBC smash hit was a rule breaker (she wore pants!), Jessica lives in a different time and has the freedom to express herself more acutely. “I’ve always been a fan of sensuality and women looking beautiful but keeping the elegance,” Marc says.
That’s sort of Marc’s MO. He’s interested in pulling out what’s already inside the person, rather than trying to stencil something on top of them. That offers a different challenge to every subject. Even a well-versed TV star, like Jessica Brown Findlay, must get used to sitting in front of a photographer’s camera. “It’s a different animal being in front of a moving camera and being in front of a still camera,” Marc explains. “It takes work. It’s really about getting the person in front of you to relax.” As exposing and intimate a performance like Jessica’s can be, it comes from behind a costume, with lines well written. Posing for a still camera is a straight representation of the subject, captured in the vacuum of expectation. It can be tricky.
It’s not only tricky to get an intimate look at a fresh face, Marc’s got to make himself happy with what he shoots. He’s a hard man to please. “You have to excite yourself, trying to evolve with them,” he says. “The biggest challenge is doing something you’re proud of yourself, but also that the person you’re photographing really loves. If you hit both those notes at once you cannot do much better.”
Since the industry has been moving to digital over the last decade, Marc has had to leave a lot of the black and white work behind. He loves shooting black and white, and that expertise has translated itself into his work with color. That’s why his images are so intense. Maintaining a warm skin tone, Marc loves rich blues and greens, and splashes them across his images, dancing off the deep contrasts. His blacks aren’t black, but rather the most intense version of color. It’s hyperrealism, like it’s been distilled and concentrated. That look is a through line over his entire work. And always has been.
As of this week, Marc Hom is now being represented by Bernstein & Andriulli. His entire portfolio can be seen here.