How Getty Produced and Distributed 20K Images and Videos From Met Gala

A peek inside fashion's biggest night

This year, the likes of Zendaya, Jennifer Lopez, Bad Bunny, Cardi B, Shakira and Lil Nas X walked the red carpet at The Met Gala. And while the celebrities—in all their sartorial splendor—are, understandably, the focus of media coverage, I was curious about how Getty Images, the event's official photographer, captures the red carpet glamour and all those candid shots from inside the party.

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Here, Kirstin Benson, Getty Images' VP of global entertainment, takes Muse behind the scenes, revealing the immense amount of planning, coordination and teamwork that goes into covering fashion's biggest night.

MUSE: How long has Getty been the official photographer of The Met Gala, and what does it mean to your team to cover such a culturally significant event?

Kirstin Benson: Getty Images has been capturing The Met Gala for decades and first officially partnered with the event in 2018. We now cover every aspect of the invitation-only event, including red carpet arrivals and departures and candid images from inside the party and live performances—intent on providing an intimate look at an unparalleled evening for the world to see. The event is unique in that it brings together so many different walks of life–designers, politicians, actors, models, musicians and athletes. Not to mention, it's visually arresting with everyone dressed in theme. It’s no wonder it holds such cultural relevance around the globe.

How many photographers and videographers captured images and video from this year's Gala?

This year, the Getty Images team comprised around 15 photographers and videographers, plus producers, technology support and operations pros, runners, and more than three dozen editors—both on-site and remote. Overall, we had more than 70 team members working in real time to produce and deliver content—both imagery and video—globally to our customers.

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How did you choose the team of photographers and videographers? Are these all people with experience shooting fashion and Hollywood events?

When formulating The Met Gala team each year, we take several things into consideration. First, we look to highlight our photographers and videographers' strengths. Some thrive behind the line on red carpets. Others thrive in what we call "roaming" positions, where they pair talent up for photos or take more candid moments. And some specialize in performance or music photography. Another component is ensuring we have a diverse set of experiences and perspectives behind the camera. This includes a variety of factors, such as representation across our team of content producers and production staff, varied years of experience and different areas of expertise.

In addition to our staff creators, this was the first year that our two entertainment internsMarleen Moise and Aliah Andersonwere able to shoot on the red carpet, too. We were delighted to feature seasoned creators alongside up-and-coming content pros and strengthen the quality of our coverage and storytelling from fresh perspectives.

How far in advance of this year's Gala did you start organizing your team, and what kind of planning did you do?

We had our first meeting for the 2024 about three weeks after last year's Met Gala. We recapped everything that happened and reviewed what we'd like to keep or change moving forward. The Met Gala is one of our biggest editorial events of the year and involves several cross-functional teams across Getty Images, including production and technology, photographers/videographers, assignment editors, still and video editors, and legal, to name a few. Everyone has a unique role to play to bring this night to life. In short, it takes a village.

Is there a dress code for the photographers you have covering this event?

The dress code for the Met Gala is formal/black tie. We expect the team on site to follow the dress code and wear "production black."

How did things work the day/night of the event? How did you make sure there was always a photographer where one was needed?

Set-up is an all-day thing. We have members our team coming in from across the U.S. It's a large operation to ensure the editing room is set up and technology for our photographers and videographers is in place. In the last two years, we introduced the use of remote cameras to capture the event. This allows us to put cameras in places where our creators can't physically be. The cameras are set up the weekend prior to the event for testing and can't be accessed until after the event. Remote cameras are typically used by our sports team on the catwalks, nets and roofs of venues and something we decided to incorporate for the red carpet to continue to innovate and find new ways to capture the event.

The red carpet begins around 5 p.m. and runs for several hours. Given there's always a lot happening on the carpet, we have photographers and videographers in a variety of positions with different levels of access. They're trained to capture everyone who walks in front of the lens. Since this is an invitation-only event, there's so many surprises the night of the party—between the talent that shows up, what they're wearing and who's performing.

Our creators also have long-term relationships with talent, which plays to our advantage—especially inside the event or roaming on the red carpet. 

How fast were you able to get the images up on the Getty Images site? And what's that process like?

We pride ourselves on speed to market and accuracy. Getty Images can send photos and videos from the center of the action on the red carpet to a publication in as little as 30 seconds. As soon as our creators shoot the content, the editors on-site and remote get to work editing and captioning in our proprietary software, before sending the content to our site and feeds in near real time.

We also capture high-quality video content. With our world becoming increasingly digital and highly visual, this footage is important for our customers in telling their stories, especially on social and online.

What makes the Met Gala especially challenging to cover? And how does it compare in size and scope to other events?

The hardest part is logistics. The museum is open to the public until the day prior to the event, so we wait to build out the infrastructure until the night before or the morning of the event, which takes a lot of pre-planning. It's the biggest night of the year for fashionand, from an event-photography perspective, it's certainly on par with other entertainment tentpoles, like the Oscars or BAFTAs.

How did you feel/what did you do after this year's coverage wrapped? I would think you might need a vacation.

This year, our team posted around 20,000 images and videos from the beginning to the end. The coverage reflects why our team is the best and a trusted source in the industry. I'm proud of the team always setting the bar high and ensuring we are delivering content that people won’t find anywhere else.

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Zendaya had my favorite looks of the night. She walked the red carpet twice and still managed to co-host the event! She looked striking in a custom Maison Margiela gown by John Galliano at the top of the night. Then, as the carpet was wrapping up, she surprised and delighted us all in a secondand even more dramatic lookwearing a vintage Givenchy dress by Galliano with a long black train and a headpiece filled with light-colored roses. She stayed in character for the entire carpet.

Following the event, our team was able to enjoy the city together and spend time with colleagues and partners we don't always see. But there's no rest for the weary! We had BAFTA TV & Film Awards this past Sunday, followed by Cannes Film Festival, which is starting this week.

Christine Champagne
Muse contributor Christine Champagne is a writer based in NYC.

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