Joe Pugliese Gets Meta with Jimmy Fallon
Joe Pugliese isn’t known for hilarious photography. It’s not really his thing. So when it came time to shoot Jimmy Fallon for the cover of Men’s Journal, he knew it was going to be something in a different direction. “I don’t really do humorous photography that much, I don’t put a lot of humor into the set ups and concepts that I shoot,” Joe says. But he’s been following Jimmy Fallon for quite a while, so he decided to go for it. “It felt like a nice fit. I feel like Jimmy is a smart comic and he has a pulse on pop culture that’s kind of dead on. We let him really guide the mood. I just let him be himself, which fell into the way I like to shoot anyway.” It ended up working out perfectly, since what Joe likes to do is step back and let his subject be who they are naturally. It didn’t hurt that Joe and Jimmy injected a little something extra into the feeling of the shoot.
Since humorous photography isn’t what Joe typically likes to do, he and Jimmy went an additional step to take it beyond typical clownish shoots. When it came to shooting Jimmy at the fake campfire with the burnt marshmallow (in the rain), Joe explains, “It was the joke within the joke. It was almost a riff on that sort of humorous photography. He almost looked chagrined to do it. There was some mystery whether he was chagrined by the photo shoot or chagrined that his marshmallow had burned or chagrined that it wasn’t a real fire. It was nonsensical which was fun, but it wasn’t whimsical.” It was a fine line for them to walk, to get the feeling exactly right.
With a less experienced comic, or a comic who has only done scripted work, it could have taken all day to get the perfect shot. But Jimmy has been doing live performance for so long, and it is such a part of his style, that he and Joe didn’t waste any time. “I think he was really natural, I think he was really comfortable, and he was really efficient,” Joe says. “He’s such a pro and such a performer, he hit his mark and used the time well. He thinks on his feet. He can look outside himself to see what’s working and what’s not. Everything kind of just worked.”