Here's what it's like to photograph the biggest stars on Oscars night

About 40 million people will tune in to watch the 88th Academy Awards this weekend — many of whom will sit on their couch wishing they could walk the red carpet or party with the world’s biggest stars after the show.

Larry Busacca gets to do just that.

As the chief entertainment photographer for Getty Images, Busacca has covered the Academy Awards (also known as the “Oscars”), the Vanity Fair after party, and the Elton John Oscar Party for almost a decade.

“I’ve had a camera in my hands for as long as I can remember and have been an entertainment photographer for over 25 years now,” he told Business Insider.

Busacca started his career as a freelancer for the New York Times and as a tour photographer for a number of musicians, including Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, Beyonce, and Taylor Swift. Nine years ago, he started working for Getty. That’s when he got involved with the Oscars.

We asked Busacca — who will manage those shooting the red carpet and show this year but will personally shoot the Vanity Fair after party — to tell us what it’s like be an Oscars photographer.

Here’s what he said:

The process

Mark Davis / Getty Images

'We have a full team covering the Oscars comprising of nine photographers, plus editors, and technicians, who will put in around 1,000 man hours covering the event. It's the most photographed event of the year and we'll take around 80,000 images on the night of the show.

'It takes a small army and about a week of preparation to ensure everything is in place for the big day. The hours are gruelling but when it all comes together smoothly it's worth it.

'As a photographer, the trick to getting the best photos that night is to wait, watch, listen, decide, and commit to shoot. That usually all happens in a split second.'

Coolest part of the job

Kevin Mazur/VF14 / Getty Images

'The coolest thing about this job is having the opportunity to be in the places I get to shoot in and to be able to photograph the people and events I get to cover. I work directly with many celebrities and their managers and publicists, so getting to work creatively with all of them is very cool.'

The biggest challenge

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

'Mainly physical and mental stamina. We are on our feet carrying multiple camera bodies and various gear all day long. We need to stay mentally sharp to be ready to make images that are visually interesting.'

What it's like to photograph celebrities

Larry Busacca/VF15 / Getty Images

'I have been shooting in and around the entertainment business for so long that many of the talent and their teams have gotten used to seeing me. It takes years to develop that kind of relationship. They know my work and know that they can trust me. That trust allows them to be relaxed around me which ends up helping me make better pictures.'

Being behind the curtain

Christopher Polk / Getty

'As photographers we shoot from many vantage points at the Oscars that allow us to capture moments that not everyone gets to see. Our access also brings us backstage where we get to see the full production, presenters waiting nervously in the wings, and the celebratory moments as winners come off stage. There are a lot of iconic moments that happen behind the velvet curtain when no one is watching but us.'

Favourite memories

Kevin Mazur/VF15 / Getty Images

'There are so many memorable moments, but one repeating theme is when younger celebrities see or meet their own influencers. Seeing Lupita Nyong'o meet Sidney Poitier or Jared Leto being excited to speak with Michael Keaton was incredible. There are so many moments like that, where the stars get star-struck themselves, which is great to see.'

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