Sebastian Copeland is a photographer and environmental activist. Copeland grew up in France and Britain, and graduated from UCLA in 1987 with a major in film. Throughout the 1990’s, Copeland directed commercials – everything from soft drinks to sportswear – as well as music videos. He is also known for his celebrity portraiture; he’s taken pictures of Sandra Bullock, Kate Bosworth, and Orlando Bloom (who is also his cousin), among others. In recent years, Copeland has focused on environmental activism. He serves on the Board of Directors of Global Green USA and recently published Antarctica: The Global Warning
Question: Is photographing celebrities different than photographing models?
Copeland: Very different. Very different. You know I mean when you shoot with models they’re professionals and they’re paid to be there. And so they typically are trained to take the direction and they’re natural extroverts. When you deal with celebrities you tend to deal a lot more with a tendency to be introverts, at least in (07:06) front of the still camera. Typically celebrities are not all that comfortable being photographed because in reality they’re out of control. They’re . . . The level of their performance is very, very different from that which they express onto the motion picture experience. So they, you know . . . They don’t control when the shutter is being depressed, and what . . . what image comes out of it. So they tend to be a little self-conscious of that experience. And the role of a portrait photography is too able to either exploit that vulnerability or to release it somehow. And to get something out of them, it certainly a tricky experience and it’s always an adventure – very, very unique to each experience.
Question: What was the most memorable experience?
Copeland: Well memorable of the experiences . . . You know I mean there are subjects, people whom I’ve photographed multiple times and had a great experience shooting. So with that comes to mind Sandra Bullock who I’ve shot multiple times, and Kate Bosworth, and Orlando Bloom of course. And . . . But then you know I’ve had single experiences with Philip Seymour Hoffman which sort of stands as one of my favorite portraits. It’s a very stoic and very sober portrait. But it somehow feels like with some people you really get a photograph and feel like, you know, perhaps with some, people might look at it 20, 30, 50 years from now and still find some relevance in it.