When Ben Trivett, 27, first picked up a camera, he had no idea it would change his entire life. For Trivett, who works as a photo editor for People.com and as a freelance photographer, going from art school student to celebrity photographer didn’t happen overnight. “I initially went to school to study film because I thought it would be a more appropriate career path but I had always been in love with photography,” says the Ohio native, who received his Bachelor in Fine Arts from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. “[But] somewhere during my freshman year I realized that still photography was more appealing to me and [I] committed to that.”
With an arsenal of digital equipment that would make any tech geek swoon, Trivett has worked with an endless list of celebrities including Donald Trump, Cee-Lo Green, Rachael Ray, Selena Gomez, Matt Damon, 50 Cent, and The Real Housewives of Orange County. “I'm not sure I have one favorite,” he confesses. “I did a shoot with Mumford & Sons a few years ago that really stuck in my head. Those guys were amazing.” Although his portfolio is filled with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, Trivett’s down-to-earth approach to photographing the rich and famous has played a part in his success. “The whole idea of celebrity is [a] fantasy though. I get very nervous sometimes when I have an idea of someone and I fear they won't live up to that. It's strange but only a few times has that ever been the case,” he says.
“I've definitely had intimidating moments but those fuel the fire. Sitting in a room with Donald Trump or on a roof with Tracy Morgan is such a rush. There are moments though when you're saying to yourself ‘Holy sh*t… I'm chatting with some of my favorite actors and musicians.’ It's a very lucky and crazy experience. I'd definitely cheese over a few people if the shoots came about… like Bill Murray.”
Going from shooting celebrities to fashion photography was a welcome switch for Trivett. While he’d worked with up and coming designers in the past, Trivett got his big break when he was asked to photograph the Spring 2012 lookbook for actress Katie Holmes and stylist Jeanne Yang’s line, Holmes & Yang. “Shooting the Holmes and Yang look book was an amazing experience. We had a great space to work in and I was given a lot of freedom with the style and direction of the photos,” he says. “We sat down and had a basic idea of what we wanted the photos to look like but once we started shooting everything just developed. Having a great, experienced model was crucial also.”
But Trivett is the first to admit that getting the perfect shot is more than having a gorgeous model at your disposal. “Beyond the technical checklist that every photographer has, you need to remember that you are working with a model. Posing and expression will become key. You need to be able to work with a model and help them bring the emotion and expression that can define a shoot,” he says.
As for budding art students interested in fashion photography, Trivett offers some foolproof advice: Focus on “lots of assisting, shooting, research,” he says. “Know who is shooting what. Making connections with designers as well as publications is a huge step. It all comes down to awareness of the industry.”
Although Trivett never expected he‘d one day go from film student to fashion photographer, he knows exactly what‘s responsible for his success. “It's all about working,” he says. “It's a very specific and demanding field and you have to be willing to go the extra mile.”
Photo by Max Orenstein