Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Words by Janet Alexander–

Forget the Irish, it must be the luck of the Scottish, so to speak. Glasgow-born portrait photographer, Lloyd Bishop has a photographers’ dream job working as a behind-the-scenes shooter for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. With a distinctive furtive glance point of view perspective, Lloyd’s photographs makes us feel as though we were there with him. His backstage access, combined with his artful eye won him the coveted Photographer of the Week title.

Can you elaborate on your website’s bio? 

I went to Secondary School (High School) in Glasgow, Scotland. It was quite an academic school, which shall we say, wasn’t to my best advantage. The only subject I ever really enjoyed was Art. Whether it was the teachers I had, or the ability to be able to be creative in such usually strict academic surrounding, I journeyed down that path. Photography was always a hobby but never something I thought about having a career in. My only interest at 17 was to be able to go to Israel for the year and so I did whatever was necessary to please my parents and had myself accepted onto a university course for the year of my return to the UK, in Manchester England. When I returned from Israel, I sat in lectures for 6 months and had no idea what anyone was talking about. I soon enrolled in an art foundation course, which then allowed me to enroll in a 3-year documentary & fine art photography degree.

From where did your interest in photography develop?

I had always loved photography but never really realized it. My parents would drag my siblings and I to art galleries, museums, theatre shows and so on. When you’re younger, you don’t appreciate it, but having grown up, I feel that it was all that exposure to art that has molded some kind of artistic appreciation. I loved sports photography growing up too. I used to go to local photo clubs and learn about photography, and then take pictures at sports day and try and have them published in the school magazine. I somehow managed to blab my way into getting a press pass for a music festival In Scotland called, ‘T In The Park’ from a local paper. Off I went with my wee 35mm 70-200 f3.5-5.6 lens not really fully understanding the fine complexities of what I was doing.

Why and when did you move to New York?

After the 1st year of my photo degree I got in touch with a photographer in New York for some assisting experience. He was also originally from Glasgow, and was the photographer my parents hired to photograph my barmitzvah. He had moved to NY and become a well-established Hip Hop photographer. I got in touch and long story short, I came to New York for 7 weeks to assist him and his 2 full time assistants on shoots and learn the ropes. At the end of my time, he told me when I finish my degree to come back, so I did.

How did you develop your photographic approach and style?

Like any photographer, there has to be some sort of inspiration, and for me it was Henri Cartier-Bresson, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Nick Danziger, and Harry Benson.
I’ve always been drawn to the fly on the wall style of documentary and the Intimate portrait.
Of course, I didn’t know that was what I wanted to concentrate my work on in the early days, and I feel the process of developing my style is an ever evolving; it changes and progresses and hopefully gets better over time.

How did you ever get connected to Jimmy Fallon and Sir Paul McCartney?

Like a lot of jobs that come around, its word of mouth and the right people seeing your work. I did an editorial piece with an English publication, featuring Alan Cumming, the great Scottish Actor.I syndicated those images to a company in London who knew someone at McCartney’s company, MPL and from that they put me up for the job, which at the time, was a 3 day trip to Israel for his ‘Friendship First’ Concert. After that, they called me back to cover 3 more nights for their US tour including one in New York’s Citi field, which was incredible. The job as Jimmy Fallon’s house photographer came along again, in the same way. Someone had seen some portraits I had shot of Tricky, I think and put my name forward into the mix. Throw in a wee bit of Scottish Charm and I guess that did the trick.

Sir Paul himself

What is the most difficult challenge of achieving the look you want for your Fallon Show photographs?

During the backstage time before a show’s taping and during the show taping on the floor, there is no flash used at all. Not only for the obvious reasons of it interfering with the show’s taping, but also, backstage, when Jimmy is talking to the guests, a constant flashing can be an annoyance while you’re trying to have an intimate conversation. During that time, I’m completely depend on the available light in the hallway backstage, which is painfully bright spot-down lights and the studio show lights, which are generally set around (for photo stills) ISO 5000 F4.5 @ 125 on the Mark 3. I don’t just see these images as press images, but also as an archive of the history of the show and the amazing talent that passes through the doors and in front of my camera. In years to come I want these images to be a documentation of what goes into it all to make it happen. I am always conscious of not overstepping a mark and making the guest feel uncomfortable in anyway. The majority of the time they are open to me shooting AND Jimmy is usually having a laugh with them that they don’t even notice me

Your advice for emerging photographers?

There’s no short cuts to getting anywhere you want to be. We all want to be further on in our careers but don’t over estimate yourself, or underestimate the ones who you can learn from. Learn the craft, understand the technical side of things and pick up books to get inspired. Learn from those who came before you and from those who get you excited about photography

Is social media a valuable tool for promoting photography? 

Absolutely, I believe word of mouth is the best form of promotion. Today, with people being so dependent and connected to their computers and phones, it can be taken to a whole new level. People all over the world can see my work and with sites like facebook, twitter and tumblr I can share my work with people I would usually never get to look at what I’m working on.

See more of Lloyd’s work at his new photo blog:

Diane Von Furstenberg

R. Kelly