For the twelfth year, Art Basel Miami, the premier art show of the Americas brought together leading collectors, curators, museum directors and critics around the world.
Getty Images photographers were there to capture the action through 118 assignments during the fair’s five days, showing us in pictures the splendor and the power of great art. Here, we go behind the scenes with several Getty Images photographers to see just what covering an event of this magnitude involves.
Day 1 – Art Basel Media Preview
I arrive on Wednesday morning, December 3rd at the Miami Beach Convention Center, which houses the show and all its exhibiting galleries. There are north of 265 galleries this year, representing 30+ countries around the world, which is impressive. There are a lot of local players I’m personally excited to see, but it’s great to know that the show is diverse and encompasses global works.
My first stop is at the Media Center to pick up my press pass, where I also meet Getty Images Managing Editor, Carole Moore. Now in her 10th year of running the show for Getty Images, Carole knows the ins and outs of Basel. She manages our photographers and assigns them their jobs for the day, which proves to be a true juggling act.
After heading down to the convention center floor, Carole gives me the lay of the land and quickly introduces me to one of our local shooters, Aaron Davidson. His assignment is to “roam” the show floor for the day and to take pictures of 24 out of the 48 “galleries to watch” as highlighted by the organizers of the show. The other 24 galleries will be photographed by NY entertainment photographer, Daniel Zuchnik.
We head out to roam the show in search for our assigned galleries, stopping along the way to take photos of celebrities, which are always a priority. The layout of the show is confusing, and we have to use the map quite often, but Aaron is great at being quick and agile, steering us on the right path.
After finding a few of our assigned galleries, Aaron snaps a couple of atmosphere shots, as well as a few nice portraits of the gallery owners. Needless to say, they’re pleased to get exposure for their galleries and are happy to pose.
In our travels, we stumble upon a few notable people such as Mera Rubell, one of Miami’s most prominent art collectors who owns the Rubell Family Collection and Contemporary Arts Foundation. She’s being interviewed quite a bit, and is hard to get a hold of. In the end, she unfortunately declines to have her photo taken, but we move on in hopes of other prominent subjects – and there will be others!
A few minutes later, we get a call from Carole Moore letting us know that Baz Luhrmann has been spotted at the Gmurzynska gallery. We head over and find out that he’s supporting the “A Kid Could do That” initiative, which portrays a child’s instinct to see things differently (especially art), not overthinking something in its raw state. There’s already a crowd of photographers in front of him and Aaron quickly gets in there to take a shot. I also spot Daniel Zuchnik, who’s getting some great Baz close-ups. The energy around him is electric and the photographers as well as visitors feed off of it.
We return to roaming around and photographing the rest of the galleries on our list when Aaron gets a call from Carole letting him know that he has a paid assignment he has to take. “I’ll be following a dealer around for the next few hours, so I’ll have to finish this up later,” he says. I’m happy for him, as extra assignments are always welcome, and I take this as an opportunity to take a break and recharge.
A little later in the day, I meet with Carole again, who introduces me to photographer, Daniele Venturelli who came over to cover Art Basel all the way from Bologna, Italy. Daniele is an experienced shooter who delivers excellent photos at VIP and red carpet events, and he’s known to consistently produce great work at Art Basel. He claims his English isn’t good but I think he’s being tough on himself, as he explains that he just photographed Elle McPhearson and a few other celebs. He has a job later in the evening, which is a Ferragamo party hosted by W magazine.
With the first Art Basel day under my belt, I head out of the convention center, only to stop at Design Miami across the street, which features leading innovators in global design. There’s some interesting creative collaborations, including with Fendi and Dimore Studio, Swarovski and Jeanne Gang as well as some other thought provoking interior designs that catch my eye. The show is a lot smaller and more personal than Basel, and I’m excited to get another taste of art, now from a visitor perspective.
Day 2 – Art Basel Vernissage
The Vernissage (private VIP showing) is what we capture on the second day of the show. I meet with Carole again in the a.m. along with photographer, Gustavo Caballero who I’ve spoken with just a few weeks ago about his preparation for Art Basel. He’s just as I had imagined him – energetic, colorful, fun and eager to show me the ropes.
We start shooting outside to capture the general atmosphere and buzz of the show. “I need an updated shot of the Art Basel exterior,” Gus explains as we head outside to shoot the Art Basel signage and the day’s visitors entering the convention center.
Politely moving through the crowd of people, Gus’ confidence and experience shows. He takes out his camera to start shooting and I notice his camo camera skin, which I’ve never seen a photographer carry so I ask him about it. “Oh yeah, everyone asks me about that (laughs). It’s a like a cover for your cell phone – you gotta protect your equipment so it looks good and lasts longer. I put it on all of my cameras.”
After a few shots outside, we head back in to photograph the atmosphere inside the show and to spot any celebrities, of course. It’s evident that Gus knows his way around and is pretty selective about what he shoots. Tending to gravitate to the more prominent galleries, he photographs a few 3D installations such as the below Pear Emojis from the Sadie Coles gallery, which is one of my favorites.
Not long after, Gus spots actor Donald Sutherland walking around the show floor with an art dealer, both of them engrossed in conversation. We spot Daniel Zuchnik too, and both him and Gus politely ask to photograph Mr. Sutherland. He cordially accepts, but far from works the camera. “Even though he’s not smiling, at least he agreed to be photographed,” Gus says and we move on.
We’re nearing the end of our time, as Gus has another assignment outside of Art Basel, but not without capturing more celebrity action, spotting fashion designer, Diane Von Furstenberg talking to President and Chief Content Officer of Sirius XM Radio, Scott Greenstein. Gus approaches and asks to photograph them and they totally ham it up for the camera, which makes for this cheery photograph.
Heading upstairs to the media center to drop off Gus’ photo card for his images to be uploaded on to the Getty Images website, we meet with Carole and Getty Images Director of Photography, Parky Lee. Gus heads out for his next gig and I accompany Carole and Aaron Davidson for more Art Basel roaming – this time capturing visitors, as they admire art.
Breaking for lunch, I stop in at Khong River House, one of my favorite Miami Beach haunts to get a chicken meatball bahn mi. It’s delicious and so needed to re-energize myself after being on my feet the whole morning.
Returning to the convention center, I meet back up with Carole and Getty Images photographer, Alexander Tamargo who I’ve also interviewed recently. Alex stops at the show to pick up his credentials and is sans gear aside from his little point and shoot Sony RX100 M3 that he uses as back-up. He takes a few atmosphere shots, shows me how he edits them on the spot and talks about his previous assignments at VIP events for Art Basel. “The Design District is where it’s at right now. There’s some great events happening there and it’s nice to see the area blossoming.” I can’t wait to check it out at some point as well.
Day 3 – Street Style at Untitled and Scope Miami
Taking a break from the convention center, NY Street Style photographer, Daniel Zuchnik and I head out to the beach to cover street style fashion. I always enjoy this part of my job, as I’ve worked with Daniel before during NY Fashion Week and am a big fan of his approach and photographic style.
We walk over to 10th st. and Ocean Drive near the huge white tents which house the Untitled and the Scope Art shows. Situating ourselves outside of the Untitled tent first, we scope out the visitors as they’re coming in, having a keen eye for interesting fashion and accessories. Dan is a pro at this, as he photographs fashionable people on the regular in NYC. He quickly spots a young girl with a sleek black get-up and runs up to her asking to photograph her. She’s friendly and agrees right away, only to find out that she’s one of the artists exhibiting at the show, which is very cool.
Dan photographs a few other subjects in front of Untitled, a few which allow him to shoot them by the water, resulting in a beautiful backdrop. One of the ladies even goes into the water, making for a truly authentic Miami shot, which is one of Dan’s favorites.
Even though we spot plenty of fashionable ladies, we need to capture some men too so we head over to Scope in search of some dapper gentlemen. Dan has a great eye and spots a man with blue patterned pants and a summery top that’s nicely put together, as well as this creatively dressed gentleman rocking a cool man bun, plaid pants and a simple button down.
Breaking for lunch, we meet up with Getty Images street style photographer, Melodie Jeng who’s also based in New York. We exchange stories about the morning’s shoot and Melodie tells us about the street style fashions she photographed at Miami’s Wynwood Arts District. In the middle of our lunch, Melodie gets approached by NYC fashion blogger Rachel Effendy to take her picture. She excuses herself quickly and goes off to shoot and comes back to finish her lobster tacos. “Always working,” Dan laughs.
After lunch, we part ways, as the photographers have to edit the morning’s photos and continue with street style into the evening. As always, it’s great to be out in the field and get a well-rounded view of what it takes to cover an international event such as Art Basel.For a complete look at this year’s Art Basel coverage, visit the Getty Images Art Basel event page.