Sad But True

Corey Haim photographed in Los Angeles on July 3rd, 2008

Photo © Emily Shur

I do a lot of shoots that don’t wind up in my book or on my website.  I think all of us photographers do that.  We have to.  In the summer of 2008, I did a shoot with Corey Haim and Corey Feldman publicizing their reality show, The Two Coreys.  I shot both of them, but one in the morning and one in the afternoon because they did not want to cross paths with each other at any point.  I was excited to meet and shoot both of them, being a child of the 80′s and all.

One of the best (if not the best) parts of being a photographer is the glimpse we get into others’ worlds.  This is what continually keeps me interested in what I do.  It’s always different.  Yes, some people are boring and regular…or just plain nice.  Then, there are some that leave more of an impact for whatever reason.  Corey Haim definitely left an impact on me.  He was very vocal in how he wanted to be photographed, right down to the framing and camera angle.  He wanted to have input on almost every detail which I kind of appreciate because it means the person has a stake in how the photograph comes out.  I’m not going to sugar coat this entire story, as he was definitely not 100% clear headed, but what makes me sad looking back is that he was genuinely excited to be there.  He was excited about the show, about being in the public eye again, and about getting his picture taken.  Sometimes it was hard for me to keep up with him, as I could see his mind racing and the words were coming out almost just as fast.

When someone I’ve photographed dies, I usually feel a little something even though I clearly wasn’t close with the person at all.  I felt this last year when Brittany Murphy died.  She was my very first legitimate celebrity shoot.  At the time I photographed her, I had never shot anyone as famous as her, and I didn’t know what to expect.  How do I talk to her?  Will she be any different from any other person I’ve photographed?  Do I ask her to do stuff, or will she just start ‘doing’ once the camera comes out?  I had no clue about anything.  I shot her in her dressing room, on the set of a movie she was making.  Despite the lack of an actual personal relationship most of the time, photographing someone can be and should be an intimate exchange.  The subject is in a fairly vulnerable state even if they don’t always want to admit it…wanting to look good, putting their faith in you to make them look good, etc.  I think a good portrait photographer gets a real sense of their subject in the time they spend with them, even if that might be a matter of minutes and/or hours.  I always leave a shoot having learned something about the person I’ve photographed, and sometimes it’s painfully clear that their ending will not be a happy one.

I’m no authority, but clearly fame does not make people happy or give them peace.  It seems to be very dangerous when people who have real problems are constantly “yes-ed”…sometimes to death.

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