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Timothy White  

Celebrity Photographer

Timothy White is one of the world's most sought-after celebrity photographers. He currently lives and works in New York City.

After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, Timothy began refining his photography career with Rolling Stone magazine. His first celebrity assignment was to shoot Elvis Castello; his second, a portrait of Yoko Ono in 1984. From there his resume blossomed.

For over thirty years he has captured the intimate and playful sides of legendary actors such as Harrison Ford, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Murphy, Julia Roberts, Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Nicholson, Sophia Loren, and Glenn Close to name a few. He has also captured the innocence of up-and-comers. He has shot photography for some of the most recognizable movie posters of our time, the covers of countless high-profile publications, and imagery for an extraordinary and expansive roster of musicians including Eric Clapton, Whitney Houston, Keith Richards, Guns N' Roses, Aretha Franklin and James Brown.

Named one of the most important people in photography by American Photo, Timothy White has been the recipient of many photography and film awards, including the International Photographer of the Year. His photographs are exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide. As a partner of the Morrison Hotel Gallery, Timothy regularly curates and produces events in New York and Los Angeles.

Timothy contributes to numerous non-profit organizations as an activist for their cause and donating his time and work. Most recently he has supported amfAR, The Rape Foundation and City Harvest. He has also shot campaigns for No More Domestic Violence, Joyful Heart and Recycle Across America.

Timothy White's published works include: Timothy White Portraits, published by Rizzoli, with foreword by Harrison Ford; Indian Larry published by Merrell, with forewords by Mathew Barney, Paul Cox, and Billy Lane; Hollywood Pinups published by Harper Collins, with forewords by Susan Sarandon, Christian Louboutin, and Chris Napolitano; Match Prints, a photography collaboration with legendary rock and roll photographer Jim Marshall with foreword by Anthony DeCurtis published by Harper Collins.

Speech Topics


Achieving your goals.

"Be it an actor, writer, dancer, or athlete, talent alone isn’t enough to become successful. It’s the tedium of technique that separates the men from the boys. I use confidence of self in everything I do to make it a success. That confidence allows me to be creative. It’s a power. Don’t be afraid of uncertainty. Most of my career happened because of unknowing and uncertainty. I was willing to push and go for it because of the belief in myself. Sometimes to achieve your goals to you need to become a part of something bigger. Things can be collaborative and still part of your personal success.

You learn from a mistake. Failure is when you give up after having only tried once. The term paper gets only one QC read. Give the career one chance after you are fired for the first time. You must try again, but also analyze what went wrong. Be honest with yourself. Dissect it. Was it bad timing? Was my focus off? What did I get wrong? That is the key. Use it – go with it. Don’t be afraid. When you get your shot, you’ll be ready."


Being creative in a commercial environment.

"I think about the photographic work that influences me: The Family of Man exhibition at MOMA -- Edward Steichen in 1955 brought together hundreds of photographers from around the world to exhibit the common experience of life across borders and cultures. I was introduced to it in the 70's; the exhibition's importance is timeless. Richard Avedon. Irving Penn. Helmut Newton. Guy Bourdan. All are examples of artists with extraordinarily creative work from a predominately commercial environment, which involves the complexity of maintaining right brain/left brain balance when making something that is both art and product. I am challenged with this on a daily basis. Each subject – usually a celebrity, has their own career and personality which informs what I am able and willing to reveal about them via their image on film. The Clients: movie studios, fashion magazines… ask 'What do we need to make sure we are getting out of the shoot? … And also, give us something original, and clever, and interesting, and edgy but usually not too edgy.' It’s tough, and I will walk you through how I work through this set of contradictions."


Leadership from an "Influencer."

"Leadership has many different flavors. You have the autocrat. Or the Transactional leader, who rewards and punishes as a sort of currency. There is the leader who leads by not leading, and leaves things to the fate. I consider myself an influencer. An influencer is never direct. This is not to say I am trying to deceive. Through a combination of inspiration, positivity, motivation, and guidance, you can empower the people working for you and with you to give their very best, and improve. You want to develop their self-reliance. It benefits them and you. They get better, and you have someone to work with who knows your style and you can learn to trust to do their job to your expectations.

It’s about controlling the setting, by influencing it. On set I always try to keep it “light” – so everyone feels comfortable, but I also make sure the intensity doesn’t wain. A celebrity photo shoot can last all day, and then into the night. Everyone needs to stay focused. And sometimes it’s not always about managing people who work FOR you. Sometimes you are “leading up”, and managing people you WANT to follow you. And for those people you are often working within their agenda too. An autocrat would get nothing out of this sort of situation, but an influencer can. You have to be willing to give of yourself. Your time, and your experience. Particularly you have to be willing to give your energy, because it takes a lot of energy. But the results I get justify my approach."


Performance on the spot--Getting high quality results in high pressure situations with limited resources.

"The gig – I am hired to shoot photographic images of a famous person. I work through agents and managers to get these assignments. They hire me not just so the client will get the images they need. They also hire me because I know how to work with celebrities. Not everyone can walk into a room with Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney and get them to work both FOR you and WITH you in a very limited amount of time, and come away with high quality material 100% guaranteed.

Think of it like an actor on stage, or a professional sportsperson on the field. The game is in real time. I am going to show you how I come to arena ready to perform. Part of it is understanding your craft and planning and practicing so in the moment, on the set, you are able to improvise and take what the setting and the subject give you, work with it, and create something better than you could have ever planned for."

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