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Behind the Lens: Rob Rich
BY JAMES BLINKEN
Rob Rich is a Long Island native
event photographer who went to
school at Southampton College with
a focus in photography and marine
He has photographed events such
as the 80th and 81st Academy Awards
and the 2016 Tony Awards, featuring
the stars of Hamilton, including
Lin Manuel-Miranda. He has also
photographed such events as Paris
Hilton’s 21st birthday and more recently
Jon Bon Jovi at The Clubhouse
in Wainscott. That’s in addition to
photographing such local Hampton
celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Lady
Gaga, Madonna and many more.
Rich recently photographed NYC’s
struggles during the start of the COVID
19 pandemic while also supplying
PPE and food to places in need of
assistance, including local hospitals,
fire stations, as well as to underserved
What inspired you to become a
I’ve always had a passion for photography
since I was a kid and won a
Kodak competition for a photo taken
while I was in the 8th grade when I
used a Voigtlander rangefinder camera
my dad brought home from Germany
when he was in the service. I
took photos every day, whether I am
hired or not! I find many things interesting
to shoot, depending on where I
am at the time.
Who is Your Biggest inspiration?
I love the work of Ansel Adams. The
landscape photos he took during the
period he was alive were incredible
Is there anyone or anything
specific that got you into
As far as my socialite photography,
it was a publicist named Catherine
Saxton. She was the publicist for many
high-profile people, including the Hiltons
and the Trumps. She discovered
me and was the primary force in my
socialite photography career.
What is your favorite type of
event to shoot?
The one that pays the most for the
least amount of stress involved!
Do you have a favorite photo
you have ever taken?
Lady Gaga, as she is friendly to the
photographers and gives you time.
She is not just running through the
gauntlet to get to the other side of the
carpet. She is the most impressive
person I have ever photographed.
What is involved in a photoshoot,
from start to finish?
Let us talk about event photography,
for example. Before you shoot, make
sure all batteries, including backup
batteries, are fully charged. Expect
equipment to fail. Carry backups of
everything, then fire away! After the
event, there is photo editing. Oh, the
fun part! You will spend hours on
the computer typing in all the names
of the people you shot. And you better
get the names right! If necessary,
compensate for color balance and exposure.
Editing can take twice as long
as the photoshoot. There are three
aspects of a shoot. The travel time, the
time to shoot the event and the after
editing time. Many people who will
hire you just think it’s about snapping
How do you operate? How do
you get the perfect smile?
You have to get into the person’s
mind and get the perfect expression
from somebody’s face. I’ll give an
analogy. When you’re a bartender, as
an example, you make money through
tips. You have approximately one minute
to learn someone’s personality in
order to get a tip out of them. So you
have to learn how somebody is like in
a very short amount of time to make
them laugh or smile. You have to get
into somebody’s brain and make them
happy to get what you need. The happiness
is that smile, and you have to
have the ability to get that smile for
What equipment do you recommend
to new photographers?
As far as equipment, I suggest you
use what you are comfortable with.
Certain people are relaxed and find
it easy to use the controls on certain
brands of cameras, and others have a
hard time using the menus on others.
Find your comfortable fit. Many people
ask me what’s the best camera to
use. I tell them the one you are comfortable
using and controlling to get
the best possible photo!
Finally, what is the biggest
compliment you can receive as a
Someone liking a photo I took of
themselves. That is the highest compliment
a photographer can receive.
Rob currently is working on a book
showcasing the homeless population
in the streets of where he lived during
his walks home in his neighborhood
called On My Way Home. The
PARIS HILTON AT THE FRAGRANCE FOUNDATION’S FIFI AWARDS IN 2009
book is coming out soon. For now,
check out his work on his website
nysocialscene.com LADY GAGA AT THE NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW IN MANHATTAN IN 2018
COURTESY ROB RICH COURTESY ROB RICH
EAST END LIVING