Behind-the-Scenes Photo Shoot with Benedict Cumberbatch for Vanity Fair

Go behind the scenes with London-based photographer Jason Bell as he shoots the one and only Benedict Cumberbatch for Vanity Fair. Walking us through the detailed setup, including gear from Phase One, you can see all that goes into such a high-end editorial piece. From concept to completion, it's refreshing to see that not one hand was wasted in creating this magnificent series.

Bell does a great job containing his excitement and nervousness when working with so many moving pieces. Leading us through the story he wants to create, the lighting setup and locations seem to speak perfectly to his vision. Having given his crew and subject very specific direction it's great to see they all had their own creative input. 

Collaboration is really important, it's not just the photographer. It's a big team effort to shoot; you have the designer, the stylist, the groomer, and it's about all that coming together. And then once you've all tried to get the ingredients right, you then just let go and have fun with it.
—Benedict Cumberbatch

Check out the quick snapshots from the shoot below along with the final images from Vanity Fair. ​

To see more of Bell's work be sure to check out his portfolio.

[via Vanity Fair]

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Brian Reese's picture

Liam Aiden FTW!!!

Joshua Brangenberg's picture

Absolutely inspiring shoot!

Ahmed Wasim's picture

This is how bts videos should be! Benedict Cumberbatch seems to be a very nice person too..

Andrew Griswold's picture


filmkennedy's picture

Wow! Now that's how a BTS video should be done!

bchau's picture

Loved how Cumberbatch put some of his own creativity into the shoot instead of treating like a drive thru shoot

Andrew Griswold's picture

By far my favorite part. Gotta love the inspiration/feedback from all angles in this shoot for sure!

Kendra Paige's picture

Wow, I certainly wish to one day photograph a celebrity as pleasant as Benedict was in this editorial. He was so professional, and I was impressed by the risks he was willing to take to get the shot.

Loved this video, it was a wonderful BTS!

Dan Ostergren's picture

Loved the video. To be honest I feel a little let down by the shots, but thats personal taste.

Deleted Account's picture

Looking Aiden's portfolio I feel let down as well. These photos seem like a step backwards but I still appreciate the production that went into the shoot. It looks like a retouching/PP thing to me.

J. W.'s picture

I agree, his portfolio is better than what he produced on this shoot. Maybe the better shots were not selected by Vanity Fair or maybe since this shoot was sponsored by Phase One, he used a camera that he normally does not use and he got a lot of missed focus shots. But it was refreshing seeing someone that actually understands photography and is not just an art director that only clicks the shutter when someone else made all of the camera and lighting adjustments.

Morgan Moller's picture

This shoot is actually a small part of a longer story called "The British Are Coming'' which is this years' annual Hollywood Portfolio of Vanity Fair. You should see the complete spread in VF, as well as the behind-the-scenes of the whole shoot and it will give a much better impression than this single image, which is quite boring standalone, but actually really good with the dogs and the water in the larger context of the story. I recommend it!

Steve Johnston's picture

everything about this video is well done!

Anonymous's picture

Enjoyed the insight this shoot gave in how to do it and the insight into something of the real Benedict. Very good.

Nissor Abdourazakov's picture

Love it very much, thank you for posting it!

Andrew Griswold's picture

Of course! Great in depth look into a shoot like this.

Adam Bender's picture

Inspiring to watch.

Claude Laramée's picture

Wonderful team work, it's great when a model's input are considered ! I wish the dog was looking toward the camera, love the BTS !

Michael Kormos's picture

Is it just me, or does Benedict look unreasonably uncomfortable in that tree shot? His hand is cut off, he's hunched over, and the way the coat flows is just sloppy.

Things like that bug the hell out of me.

Andrew Griswold's picture

Ha, when I first started reading about model and high fashion shoots the first real tip I grabbed from another photographer was the odd fix on making models look uncomfortable or contorted. I guess its a mainstream thing to do to take away attention from the subject and put it back on the clothing. I will admit it bugs me to see an awkward pose though but maybe to the masses not so much?

Kalpesh Modi's picture

What a waste.

Rex Larsen's picture

What a treat. Great work without big egos.

By the way, Mr. Modl, why would you describe the BTS video as "a waste" ?
When people criticize the work of others I get a kick out of looking up their websites.

Günther Forhojden's picture

Could please someone explain, how he achieved this bluish light? As far as I heard his words, he uses daylight setting on flash light? Am I right? Is there any good online tutorial for such kind of effect?

Andrew Griswold's picture

He could have used a gel on his flash to create the blue tent or it could have been as simple as editing in post to create that blue color as well.

Günther Forhojden's picture

Hi, Andrew!
I understand it a bit differently. Putting something like 1/2 CTS gel on flash and shoot at 3850K and then you get this effect of bluish. But I am not 100% sure if this was the case. Something like turning daylight into night stuff.

Morgan Moller's picture

I think that if you are shooting that years' biggest spread for Vanity Fair over a couple of months you need to have a standard baseline, which you can then adjust later on. If you shoot it with gels, it's very hard to undo it afterwards whereas if you shoot it normally you can play with it later. I wouldnt take that many chances whilst shooting such a big issue :)

Dave Marco's picture

It looks like a combination of using a CTO gel and preset in the editing software that gives photos this bluish tint. It makes it easier to pre-visualize the final effect.