As a photojournalist at the Los Angeles Times, I’ve had the honor to cover the Oscars from every vantage point throughout my 37 year career. The last 16 years, my focus has been photographing the red carpet and backstage during the Academy Awards ceremony.
The small space backstage allows for only a few photographers selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be present each year. This is the same for the red carpet event before the ceremony.
Despite being well documented by hundreds of media from around the globe, only a few photographers are allowed to walk on the red carpet amid the nominees and presenters.
The Academy Awards season is a time to celebrate achievement for these people at the top of their craft in the motion picture arts and sciences; but, it is also a time for reunion for the people who work in film.
This is often where the celebrities greet each other with great emotion, so I’m looking for those intimate moments.
I’m looking for the perspective that no one sees during the show.
When winners come through the curtains backstage clutching their Oscar statuette they let their emotions flow. There is jubilation, crying and a lot of hugging.
Each year lends itself to surprises. In 2014, host Ellen DeGeneres ordered pizza for the audience with an actual pizza delivery person dropping off the pies.
In 2017 the audience was shocked at the mixup announcement for best picture where “La La Land” was mistakenly read aloud as receiving the prestigious award, whereas the film “Moonlight” was the actual winner.
As a photojournalist, I don’t direct the talent. The moments are genuine as I strive to photograph their celebration in an intimate, personable way while documenting history.
I photograph the building and blocking of the stage sets, red carpet and rehearsals of the show that people normally don’t get to see.
Al Seib has been a photographer and videographer for the Los Angeles Times since 1984. His photos have won numerous awards from national and international photographer associations. Seib’s work has helped win four Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news reporting awarded to The Times’ staff: the Los Angeles riots in 1993, the Northridge earthquake in 1995, the Southern California wildfires in 2004 and the San Bernardino shootings in 2016.