Behind The Lens - Russell Kairouz - Big Brother 11

Russell, the Love Muscle. That's right - I photographed Mr. Shotgun! Watching Russell during his season was a roller coaster of a ride. One minute I couldn't stand him - the next.. loved him. But it wasn't until he actually left the house that my respect for this guy retained its strength. He left with class - and during his exit interviews, even classier. I met Russell in Vegas and right away, we bonded because of our love the Dodgers. During a moment in Vegas - he and April were bonding and April made sure he would do photos with me. Selling me to him. She's so sweet. Well, a few weeks later, it was meant to be. I knew this shoot would be special because I always thought (along with my girlfriend Maria) that Russell was probably the best dressed from Big Brother 11.

Anyways, Lydia had an idea that Russell should bring his motorcycle down to L.A. to be shot with him. I agreed. Nice idea. But wait, why is Lydia giving me ideas? Well, she offered to help me out with the shoot. Since Russell was going to be driving his motorcycle down, he would need someone to caddy his clothes and stuff. She is so awesome. I was so thankful she was there. She helped A LOT! Plus, I could probably sneak a couple more Lydia shots in there while Russ wasn't looking. I can photograph Lydia all day. I love her look and style. And I do dig these two's relationship. They're definitely fun to hang out with. And, no people, they're just friends. Sure I poke fun and my sarcastic side comes out when I ask Lydia how her new boyfriend is. Ha!

So off to Hollywood I go. Russell was on time. Lydia, not so much! Haha! She was almost an hour late - BUT - It was all good - it gave me time to sit and chat with Russell. Which is always a plus with photographing these guys. We talked about everything - sports - girls - and of course, Big Brother. I didn't realize he had to see a medic right after the swing competition. Apparently having hypothermia setting in is not too much fun. Later we discussed Lydia's unbelievable time of 23 minutes on the swing - she's proud. This is also when I learned of Russell's accident that left him paralyzed for a bit - but as you can see - he's back to He-Man status. Or UFC status. Or as Lydia puts it - Honey bear status.

One of my all time favorite Big Brother shots came during this shoot. (right) I always try to snap up a natural, laughing moment during the shoot and sometimes, they just come out golden. And this one was no exception. Russell was very easy to photograph. What I try to do in the first 30 or so shots is get them comfortable and get them to realize I'm just photographing them kicking it and having a good time. No need to be tense or worried about anything. Joking with them is key. And having personal information (knowing stuff from the show) seems to put these people at ease, resulting in capturing some really special moments.

A lot of the times - people always comment - "Where do you find these places?" (to photograph) And the honest truth is that I have no idea. When I make an appt for a shoot - I rely on my eye to find key spots to shoot at. In the case of the motorcycle shot, I wasn't too sure where I wanted to place it. For me, I don't need much room or a specific place. This shot you see with the motorcycle took place right behind a McDonald's. The lighting was PERFECT. And I knew I wasn't going to take a picture of the whole bike, so I knew getting a tight shot wouldn't require too much of a background or space area. But there was one shot there where I forgot to pull my camera bag out of the way, so it's in the shot. Oops!

We shot around Hollywood & Vine, then drove up around the Hollywood Hills area around some residential area. I love the houses up there, and sometimes we get a cool driveway or cool outside walls to work with. We found a bamboo wall that worked perfectly. Then we drove back down to Vine and finished our shoot with Russell changing into his GQ attire. Which I knew would result in our best shots of the day. Because that's Russell. And I knew with the sun and the building we were working with, they'd come out really cool looking. The shot you see here, we had to walk down this long corridor to even find that half brick/half white wall look. I love finding exactly what my mind was thinking - like it was meant to be.

Russell's a great guy - exactly how he was when he left the house. Very courteous and complimentary. It was a pleasure for me to hang out for these few hours shooting and if it wasn't for Lydia, we wouldn't have gotten this classic shot. Notice Lydia's shadow. She's wearing Russell's two fedoras. "The Human Coat Rack" was her name for the day. Thank you, Lydia!

Oh, and Russell was doing motorcycle tricks while driving around Hollywood - I tried to get on video, but couldn't. My life was more precious to me than I thought. Maybe Lydia caught it?

Thanks for a great shoot, Russell!


  1. GREAT JOB Philly!!! I LOVE these. The casual one of Russell laughing while sitting down is amazing, best picture of him! I also love the one in front of the brick/white wall, it's great. Glad you are living the dream, my friend (:


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