ENTERTAINMENT
02/24/2017 05:40 pm ET Updated Feb 26, 2017

The Story Behind That Photo Of Leo Texting After His Oscar Win

Veteran celebrity photographer Jeff Vespa is responsible for the viral image.

It took Leonardo DiCaprio five nominations to win an Oscar and one photo to prove he was chill about it. 

You remember the one: Leo, seated away from the crowd at the Vanity Fair party, head bent over a phone while his Oscar sits on the floor between his legs. Just a casual night out in an Armani tux.

Jeff Vespa

Evidence of an A-lister acting normal after scoring Hollywood’s biggest prize is made for online vitality, and the Leo photo didn’t disappoint. Even Oscar winners need to text their buddies, right?

Jeff Vespa, a veteran celebrity photographer who used to work for Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, was the lucky person to snap the picture. Vespa has captured Hollywood events since shooting the “Bulworth” premiere in 1998. On that fateful Oscar night last year, he spotted DiCaprio in a corner, an entourage flanking him. Vespa asked to grab the Best Actor winner for a few posed shots, to which his publicist responded, “No problem, just give him a minute.” 

Vespa noticed DiCaprio set his Oscar on the floor, which struck him as interesting. Who would let go of their coveted little gold man? “That alone is crazy,” he said. “You just don’t see that.” And then, like the parting of the Red Sea, the crowd surrounding DiCaprio dispersed, leaving the actor typing on his phone. There was Vespa’s moment. He seized it. “Literally after, I saw the people move back in front of him, obscuring the view,” Vespa said. 

So goes the clamor of post-Oscar photographs. Vespa is a key figure in that scene, having co-founded WireImage, the entertainment platform that Getty Images acquired in 2007. Vespa has shot the Governors Ball and the Vanity Fair party ― two illustrious Oscar galas ― for more than a decade. Having befriended many celebrities and their publicists throughout his tenure, which includes serving as official photographer of the Sundance and Toronto film festivals, Vespa has captured defining backstage moments now lodged in the Oscars’ glitzy history.

“My life is lived in a matter of seconds,” he said. Miss an unlikely interaction or the shimmer of a winner’s golden statues, and that’s that. 

For the time time in years, Vespa will sit out Sunday’s Oscars. He directed his first film last year, the historical drama “Amre,” so Vespa is stepping away from certain photographic duties to embrace the other side of Hollywood. Soon, the photographer could become the photographed.

In the meantime, The Huffington Post has a gallery of Vespa’s celebrity images over the years. You can see more on his Instagram.

  • <strong>Aug. 31, 2001:</strong> Nicole Kidman and Elizabeth Taylor at a Venice Film Festival amfAR benefit.
    Jeff Vespa
    Aug. 31, 2001: Nicole Kidman and Elizabeth Taylor at a Venice Film Festival amfAR benefit.
  • <strong>Feb. 29, 2004:&nbsp;</strong>Peter Jackson at the Governors Ball.
    Jeff Vespa
    Feb. 29, 2004: Peter Jackson at the Governors Ball.
  • <strong>Feb. 29, 2004:&nbsp;</strong>Charlize Theron spotting her mother at the Governors Ball.
    Jeff Vespa
    Feb. 29, 2004: Charlize Theron spotting her mother at the Governors Ball.
  • <strong>Feb. 27, 2005:&nbsp;</strong>Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey at the Governors Ball.
    Jeff Vespa
    Feb. 27, 2005: Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey at the Governors Ball.
  • <strong>Feb. 25, 2007:&nbsp;</strong>George Clooney, Penelope Cruz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Beyonc&eacute; at an Armani show in
    Jeff Vespa
    Feb. 25, 2007: George Clooney, Penelope Cruz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Beyoncé at an Armani show in Los Angeles.
  • <strong>Sept. 2, 2007: </strong>Andrew Dominik, Casey Affleck, Brad Pitt and Sam Shepard at the Venice Film Festival premiere
    Jeff Vespa
    Sept. 2, 2007: Andrew Dominik, Casey Affleck, Brad Pitt and Sam Shepard at the Venice Film Festival premiere of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."
  • <strong>March 7, 2010:&nbsp;</strong>Jeremy Renner and Kathryn Bigelow at the Vanity Fair party.
    Jeff Vespa
    March 7, 2010: Jeremy Renner and Kathryn Bigelow at the Vanity Fair party.
  • <strong>Feb. 27, 2011:</strong> Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber at the Vanity Fair party.
    Jeff Vespa
    Feb. 27, 2011: Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber at the Vanity Fair party.
  • <strong>Feb. 27, 2011:</strong> Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied at the Vanity Fair party.
    Jeff Vespa
    Feb. 27, 2011: Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied at the Vanity Fair party.
  • <strong>Feb. 27, 2011:</strong> Emma Stone, Taylor Swift and Gwyneth Paltrow at the Vanity Fair party.
    Jeff Vespa
    Feb. 27, 2011: Emma Stone, Taylor Swift and Gwyneth Paltrow at the Vanity Fair party.
  • <strong>Jan. 15, 2012:</strong> Michelle Williams and Busy Philipps at The Weinstein Company's Golden Globes after-party.
    Jeff Vespa
    Jan. 15, 2012: Michelle Williams and Busy Philipps at The Weinstein Company's Golden Globes after-party.
  • <strong>Feb. 26, 2012:</strong> Cameron Diaz and Kate Hudson at the Vanity Fair party.
    Jeff Vespa
    Feb. 26, 2012: Cameron Diaz and Kate Hudson at the Vanity Fair party.
  • <strong>Jan. 12, 2014:</strong> Jaime King, Taylor Swift and Hailee Steinfeld at The Weinstein Company and Netflix's Golden G
    Jeff Vespa
    Jan. 12, 2014: Jaime King, Taylor Swift and Hailee Steinfeld at The Weinstein Company and Netflix's Golden Globes after-party.
  • <strong>March 2, 2014:</strong> Lupita Nyong'o and Rosario Dawson at the Vanity Fair party.
    Jeff Vespa
    March 2, 2014: Lupita Nyong'o and Rosario Dawson at the Vanity Fair party.
  • <strong>Feb. 22, 2015:</strong> Jared Leto, Eddie Redmayne and Lupita Nyong'o at the Vanity Fair party.
    Jeff Vespa
    Feb. 22, 2015: Jared Leto, Eddie Redmayne and Lupita Nyong'o at the Vanity Fair party.
  • <strong>Oct. 29, 2015:</strong> Matt Bomer and Lady Gaga at amfAR's Inspiration Gala.
    Jeff Vespa
    Oct. 29, 2015: Matt Bomer and Lady Gaga at amfAR's Inspiration Gala.
  • <strong>Oct. 26, 2016:&nbsp;</strong>Annie Clark, Kristen Stewart, Emma Stone and Katy Perry at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund S
    Jeff Vespa
    Oct. 26, 2016: Annie Clark, Kristen Stewart, Emma Stone and Katy Perry at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Show and Tea.
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