Cannes 2017 Highlights: Photographers David Fisher and James Gourley Share Their Favorite Moments

The red carpet has been rolled up at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, and the flock of photographers that documented the most important international film festival of the year have moved onto the next job. The volume of photographs coming out of an event like Cannes, and the insatiable appetite for online imagery requires photo editors to make quick decisions on which images to publish. The photographer doesn’t always have control over which of their photographs will be injected into the media ecosystem but every photographer has their favorites.

We caught up with two of our talented staff photographers, David Fisher and James Gourley, to get their impressions of the festival and share their photographic highlights.

Photo by David Fisher/Shutterstock – Jessica Chastain at the ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ premiere, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France – May 17, 2017

What was your overall impression of this year’s festival?

David Fisher: This year has been great, lots of stars and models wearing some fantastic outfits on the red carpet. The 70th anniversary of the festival has attracted some big name directors who have been previous recipients of the Palm d’Or. Such as Roman Polanski, Michael Haneke, Ken Loach and David Lynch. There were also several ‘spin-off’ events that were great to shoot too. The Amfar and De Grisogono events and also Naomi Campbell’s Fashion For Relief event.

Photo by David Fisher/Shutterstock – Director David Lynch, Anniversary Soiree, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France – May 23, 2017
Photo by David Fisher/Shutterstock – Lara Stone, Doutzen Kroes and Irina Shayk at amfAR’s 24th Cinema Against AIDS Gala, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France, May 25, 2017
Photo by David Fisher/Shutterstock – Bella Hadid on the catwalk at the Fashion For Relief event, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France – May 2017

James Gourley: As this is only my second Cannes, last year was a case of finding my feet and learning to cope with the pace of events, this year I’ve had more of a chance to enjoy the festival atmosphere which completely takes over Cannes for two weeks. It’s hard to pull out individual moments as working 12 days in a row helps blur every event into one!

Photo by James Gourley/Shutterstock – Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst, ‘The Beguiled’ photocall, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France – May 24, 2017
Photo by James Gourley/Shutterstock – Rihanna, ‘Okja’ premiere, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France – May 19, 2017

What were some of the memorable moments for you?

James Gourley: A red carpet highlight has to be Kendall Jenner and her huge Marni Senofonte dress, we all knew Kendall had arrived in town and expected her to walk the carpet that night, but after the cast of ‘120 Beats Per Minute’ had arrived and the premiere seemingly ended everybody assumed she wasn’t coming, but suddenly a car pulled up and she emerged, which meant she had the entire length of the red carpet, and the eyes of all 200 or so photographers to herself.

Photo by James Gourley/Shutterstock – Kendall Jenner, ‘120 Beats Per Minute’ premiere, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France, May 20, 2017

David Fisher: L’Oreal Paris, who are one of the big sponsors of the festival, have several ambassadors that walk the carpet each night. These include Aishwarya Rai, Eva Longoria, Bella Hadid, Bianca Balti and Irina Shayk. The public are usually held back for a few moments to clear the carpet whilst some of the bigger named celebrities walk so that we can all (hopefully) get a clean shot.

Some of their outfits have been amazing but maybe a little impractical for sitting down for two hours to watch a movie. In fact, they enter the Palais at the top of the stairs via the red carpet. Then disappear through a side door and into a waiting car to take them onto their next event or party. They have no connection with the screening for that night’s film it all adds to the glamour of the event and can make for some amazing pictures.

Photo by David Fisher/Shutterstock – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan at the ‘Okja’ premiere, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France, May 19, 2017
Photo by David Fisher/Shutterstock – Bella Hadid at the ‘Okja’ premiere, Bella Hadid at the ‘Okja’ premiere, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France – May 19, 2017

James Gourley: Other memorable moments include the 70th Anniversary Soirée red carpet, in which hundreds of Hollywood legends walked the carpet to celebrate the 70 years of the Cannes Film Festival. Another general highlight of the festival is having the opportunity to shoot Hollywood A-listers every single day, back in London if somebody like Nicole Kidman was in town it would likely be the best job of the month, but in Cannes we had the chance to shoot her four days in a row whilst being surrounded by other A-listers!

Photo by James Gourley/Shutterstock – Nicole Kidman, ‘Top of the Lake: China Girl’ premiere, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France – May 23, 2017

Being amongst a throng of photographers, how do you go about getting the perfect portrait?

David Fisher: All of the photographers are allocated numbered positions on the red carpet arrivals area. I’ve been covering the festival for the past 27 years and have been fortunate enough to gain a front row position over that time, this obviously gives me an advantage over somebody in the second or third row. It doesn’t always guarantee you a good shot though. With the carpet area so large and photographers both sides you do have to get lucky sometimes when those special moments happen. You do have to keep your concentration and be ready for anything to happen.

Photo by David Fisher/Shutterstock – Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ premiere, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France – May 22, 2017
Photo by David Fisher/Shutterstock – Elle Fanning, ‘The Beguiled’ premiere, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France – May 24, 2017

James Gourley: Getting a great shot at Cannes is a mixture between luck and skill, on a red carpet with around 200 photographers it’s difficult to try and get anybody’s attention, catching a great shot normally requires eagerly watching the subject and predicting their next moves to catch a nice moment or simply being lucky that they choose to do something right in front of you.

Photo by James Gourley/Shutterstock – Adriana Lima, ‘Loveless’ premiere, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France – May 18, 2017

James Gourley: Quite often the red carpet is a very busy place which makes it hard to get a clean image of guests without people walking past in the background or generally cluttering the frame. I use the time they’re standing in front of me to take the straight up and down shots of fashion with as much direct eye line as possible, and then when they move away I concentrate on tighter shots and using wide apertures to catch isolated moments in between the posing; the laughs, the stumbles, the moments they see a friend on the carpet and rush to greet them.

Photo by James Gourley/Shutterstock – Alex Sharp, Nicole Kidman, John Cameron Mitchell, Elle Fanning and AJ Lewis, ‘How to Talk to Girls at Parties’ premiere, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France – May 21, 2017
Photo by James Gourley/Shutterstock – Elle Fanning and Susan Sarandon, ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ premiere and opening ceremony, 70th Cannes Film Festival, France – May 17, 2017