Jeff Vespa spent two decades snapping Lupita, Tom and more at the Globes, the Oscars and every other big industry night, and now, as he moves from event photography to production, he shares the stories behind some of his favorite images.
It’s easy for Hollywood photographer Jeff Vespa to calculate how many events he’s shot during his 20-year career. A simple search on WireImage — the photo agency and wire service he and eight partners founded in 2001 and sold for $200 million in 2007 — yields more than 300,000 images snapped at more than 4,400 events, from the Golden Globes and Oscars to film festivals like Venice, Toronto and, his personal favorite, Sundance.
But Vespa, 47, is now shifting his focus to his Vespa Pictures, where he’ll create video content for brands and media; shoot portraits and ad campaigns; and pursue his true passion, filmmaking. (He’s in postproduction on his directorial debut, Paris Song, starring Abbie Cornish.) But no more event photography for him.
As he leaves a job that, at times, made him feel as if he were everyone’s friend — “like Switzerland” — won’t be easy. “I know studio heads, celebrities, actors, publicists, agents, managers, the boyfriends, the wives, the husbands and the children. Everyone across the board in the business. I’ve really had a unique vantage point,” he says. “But I came to Los Angeles because I wanted to be a filmmaker. I’m an artist, and it’s time for me to create more. I’ve been doing this so long now that I, of course, have trepidations. But for me, I need to take this step.”
Before his foot officially hits the ground, Vespa shares the stories behind some of his favorite images.