Respect The Shooter: Darbe Rotach Speaks On Photographing LL Cool J, Missy Elliot, Pharrell, & More



Frustration with the entertainment business may have forced Darbe Rotach to step away from the industry, but before his departure, the photographer captured some of the dopest shots of some of the biggest entertainers of the early 2000s. The editorial, lifestyle and youth culture photographer, who in his prime could be found catching shots behind the scenes on many music videos sets and at many concerts, has had his photographs appear in magazines like Rolling Stone, GQ, US Weekly, People, Spin, and OK!. Though the New York-based Darbe focuses more on photo editing and production nowadays, he still continues to be an avid shooter. He just prefers to shoot portraits of surfers, skateboarders, street artists, models and what he deems to be interesting places. Here, he talks to Life + Times about some of his favorite photographs, including shots of JAY Z, Rihanna, and Pharrell Williams.

JAY Z, Method Man & Redman

This photo was taken in 1999. I was still an account executive with the photo agency Corbis Images and at night I started going out to parties and red carpet events with the goal of shooting hip hop artists. Back then, as a photographer, you could just show up on a red carpet and get a decent spot with all the pros. I shot the premiere for LL Cool J’s movie, In Too Deep, and was one of the last shooters to leave the event. As I was walking up 23rd Street, I saw this black SUV with tinted windows pull up and the passenger door opened. To my surprise, a large ball of smoke wafted out, along with Jigga, Meth, and Redman. As they rolled up on the sidewalk I asked them if they would give me a shot. I love this photo because it was so spontaneous and playful. You can see that Meth still has his “cigarette” in his hand.

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