Hollywood Dreamin': Bexx Francois Shares The Art of Capturing Celebrity Essence

From following Kamala Harris on the campaign trail to photographing Jay-Z and Jada Pinkett Smith, Bexx Francois reveals the meticulous process behind her iconic celebrity portraits.

It’s easy to look at a photograph of a celebrity and think the image happened as if by magic or in a single snap. But for photographer Bexx Francois, capturing the essence of some of the world’s most recognizable faces, from Jada Pinkett Smith to Jay-Z, is a meticulous process. “I'm a professional observer,” the New York native says. “I enjoy the quiet moments, being behind the camera, just watching the subtleties of human interaction. And I find that appears in the work I do.”

Many would consider becoming a go-to photographer for the stars the pinnacle of their career. While Francois is professionally soaring, her journey to photographing acclaimed actors, musicians, and thought leaders began in an unexpected place. After working as a production manager at NYC's Hot 97, a friend at Buzzfeed connected her with a life-changing opportunity. “I was on the campaign trail with Kamala Harris as a documentarian and videographer,” she recalls. “I followed her all around the red, white, and blue recording speeches and interactions with voters and constituents.” When Harris joined the Biden ticket, Francois began supplementing video with still images to capture moments video couldn’t, and thus, Bexx Francois, the photographer, was born.

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The transition wasn’t without its challenges. Even with Kamala’s name on her resume, Francois had to study and train extensively. “I went to YouTube University,” she jokes. “Sometimes my friends are like, ‘What are you doing?’ And I'm like, ‘I'm home studying!’ I’m consuming conversations about the way artists create, to receive some nugget of inspiration as I go along this creative journey. What that does is empower me to give myself permission the way other artists have given themselves permission.”

Francois emphasizes that study and practice are as important as the job itself. “You have to learn the fundamentals. And just keep practicing. Just continuously doing work over and over again, to discover what you are contributing. It's not a copy and paste; it's finding your unique voice. You have to chisel at it and fine-tune it until it becomes a signature.”

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