Matthias Clamer is a celebrity, entertainment, and portrait photographer known for his creativity and sly wit. His talent lies in producing eye-catching imagery from even the most basic of premises. He has placed James Corden on a sinking Mercedes, posed the helmeted members of Daft Punk on a fake beach eating ice cream cones, and pictured Julia Louis-Dreyfus glamorously walking away from the scene of an accident unaware that she’s about to step into an open manhole.
“To me, playfulness is key,” he says. “When it’s too serious, it becomes predictable, and that’s when it starts to fall flat for me. I like humor, but not the ‘ha, ha, ha’ type. It better be buried and embedded. I love a little surprise.”
Through it all, he remains even keel on set. “I am calm even on the craziest shoot schedules,” notes Matthias, who has photographed all manner of rock stars, Hollywood celebrities, business moguls, and comedians, as well as key art for nearly all the major TV studios.
Matthias’ influences come from all sorts of places, not all of them expected. For a key art shoot for the FX drama The Americans, he wanted to evoke Russian propaganda posters, while the grainy, voyeuristic quality of surveillance photos inspired his publicity images. For the National Geographic channel, he shot eight executions of Explorer host Richard Bacon in scenarios ranging from alone in the woods at night to covered in honey to submerged in a swamp. Matthias is the photographer you go to when you need lots of assets, and you need all of them to be excellent.
Careful research goes into each of his shoots, no matter how famous and seemingly “known” his subject may be. “I learn everything I can about a subject, then let my mind go loose on characteristics that strike me as interesting or possibly visual,” says Matthias. “I like to go into shoots with a plan, but the plan is not absolute; it’s a framework that needs furnishing, and even the frame must be allowed to change. Even with a plan, a shoot is dynamic and needs space to breathe, which is the beauty of photography.”