“You only get one shot when the moment is real.”


“Matthew McConaughey walks off stage and its mayhem. He’s surrounded by producers, publicists and other actors who are waiting to present backstage. People are clapping and the cameras are going off—it’s very overwhelming. About a minute after, it’s quiet and everyone’s focused on the monitor as the next award is being presented. I look over at Matthew and see him looking down at the Oscar for the first time and he reads his name and smirks. I think it was the first moment he had a chance to be alone and really soak in what happened to him.”

These genuine moments – McConaughey’s 2014 Oscar win, as one example – make the most captivating images. From his prime position backstage, Getty Images entertainment photographer Christopher Polk has the unique opportunity of capturing the unexpected and providing a rare look behind the scenes at the Oscars.

“I shoot from where I believe I will be able to capture the most real moments of the night,” Polk said. “I want my pictures to make people feel more connected to the event and understand what it’s like to be there.”

Shooting from this vantage point also allows Polk to illustrate the emotional atmosphere of the event from a unique perspective. It’s not as simple as it looks.

“You only get one shot when the moment is real,” Polk said.

Consider this image of McConaughey, this time presenting the award for Best Actress to Julianne Moore in 2015.

“In the photo she’s opening her arms and responding to his joy for her. That’s what’s so wonderful about this image—it’s like we’re looking in on this unbelievably genuine moment,” Polk said. “He’s basically saying, ‘I remember how I felt winning this award and I am so happy for you and happy that I get to be a part of this moment.’ If you look at pictures of Matthew he’s a happy guy, but he never smiles like that. The way he’s smiling says it all.”


Catch all the unexpected moments from the Oscars at gettyimages.com. Explore Now.