Photographing the arts: turning a 3D stage into a 2D image

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Photographing the arts: turning a 3D stage into a 2D image

I was back at Darlinghurst Theatre Company recently for their production of Hysteria, by English playwright Terry Johnson. It's a tough one to sum up quickly, but let's just call it a door-slamming French farce starring Freud & Dali, and leave it at that for the moment!

After my last entry into the Photographing The Arts series of essays, about how to create depth in a production image on stage, I was watching myself work and once again analysing the decisions I make on the fly - how I choose my point of view, both in terms of camera position and lens choice; and it reminded me of something I learned early on as a photographer, from a workshop by Freeman Patterson.

The trick to photography is to translate a three-dimensional space onto a two-dimensional page, on the fly. And make it compelling...

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Photographing the arts: creating depth in production images

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Photographing the arts: creating depth in production images

I've worked with the good folks at Critical Stages a couple of times recently, and I was happy to hear from them again late last year about a new tour of Stones In His Pockets - a marvellous, funny Irish script I'd seen performed some years ago in New Zealand.

We did a studio shoot for the poster & promotional images, and then a couple of months later (due to a last-minute cast change) we did it again; then recently I was out at the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta for the dress rehearsal, and something about the way the stage was set up got me thinking while I was editing the images.

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Photographing the arts: working with a traverse stage

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Photographing the arts: working with a traverse stage

"A fox called Scruffilitis."

I knew there'd be something different about this show, from that description alone.

"This is the tale of Jonah, Sophie, and a fox called Scruffilitis. It’s a true story, and it’s a love story. A quirky, dysfunctional, voyeuristic love story, but a love story all the same."

I don't usually take much convincing to photograph theatre, as it's one of my favourite things to work on - but when I started talking to director Luke Rogers from Stories Like These about working on this production, a couple of things caught my interest. The fox, for one - and the stage itself for another...

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A Few Of My Favourite Things (2016 Year In Review Edition)

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A Few Of My Favourite Things (2016 Year In Review Edition)

I know a lot of things happened in 2016, and many of them weren't that fabulous (to say the least); but when I went back into my archives, I started to realise there'd been some really great things that happened, too - so here's a few that I was involved in along the way, along with some images that might not have been seen elsewhere...

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The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring Wellington Premiere - 15 years on

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The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring Wellington Premiere - 15 years on

Has it really been fifteen years?

When I moved to Wellington in the late nineties, a lot was happening. When the announcement came that Peter Jackson would be filming the Lord Of The Rings all over New Zealand, he started right in our neighbourhood of Seatoun, where I was living at the time. 

By the end of filming, some 300 days later, I would have been an Elf, an Orc, a Gondorian and a Rohan - most of them dead, if I'm honest. By the time the first film came out, I was also a photographer...

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Carols by Cabaret at the Hayes Theatre, Sydney

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Carols by Cabaret at the Hayes Theatre, Sydney

The Hayes Theatre here in Sydney is a smaller space in musical theatre terms, but one where some super-talented people have been working hard for the past few years to mount shows that might not otherwise get seen here.

But beyond that, they're also part of the community - and so the artists who perform there work together to help in the best way they can, by putting on a show to raise funds for the Wayside Chapel in nearby Potts Point.

And so, Carols by Cabaret was back again this year - and I offered to help the producers in the best way I know how, by photographing the show...

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Last Night Of The Proms with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra

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Last Night Of The Proms with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra

Earlier this year, I was working with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on their Last Night Of The Proms concert at the Sydney Opera House - and now that they've announced the Queen's Birthday concert again for 2017, I thought I'd put together a few images from the night!

The guest soloist was Greta Bradman (and yes, she's The Don's granddaughter) along with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs; but of course, audience participation is as much the part of a show like this as anything that's happening on stage...between the confetti cannons, the streamers, and of course the many sing-alongs, it's an all-action sort of event...

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Linden Furnell wins the Rob Guest Endowment at the Lyric Theatre, Sydney

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Linden Furnell wins the Rob Guest Endowment at the Lyric Theatre, Sydney

From a pool of over 300 applicants who auditioned, six performers were chosen to perform at the Rob Guest Endowment Gala this past Monday - and I was there once again as their official photographer to document the night.

Last year was my first time at the gala event, and I have to say I was impressed - the quality of performances from guest artists from shows currently playing in Sydney, and from the six finalists, were absolutely top notch. Considering there's very little opportunity to rehearse with the band before the event (much less have technical rehearsals, on the borrowed set of Dream Lover for the night), it's an incredibly smooth & slick production they put on.

So I knew, going back this year, that it'd be something to see once again; and it certainly didn't disappoint...

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Kage Collective October Issue: Surfaces

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Kage Collective October Issue: Surfaces

This month's issue at the Kage Collective is bigger than usual, as our collective is augmented with six 'temporary members' - participants in the very first Kage workshop held recently in Belgium with Patrick La Roque and Bert Stephani.

I've got an essay called Meetings & Collisions - part of our theme this month, Surfaces - and here's a bonus image that didn't wind up fitting in the essay quite the way I'd wanted it to.

Enjoy!

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September Kage Collective issue out now

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September Kage Collective issue out now

Just a quick note that the latest series of essays from all of us at the Kage Collective are up now - and this month is a little different, in that we're relying entirely on the images. No words to our essays this time - apart from a quick introduction from Patrick LaRoque, we're all about silent contemplation this time.

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New Musica Viva & Belvoir 2017 seasons launched

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New Musica Viva & Belvoir 2017 seasons launched

It's been a week of pleasant surprises recently, with a number of arts organisations announcing their new seasons for 2017 - and a couple of them using my work to do so!

Musica Viva's season launched recently, and it was great to see a couple of my images in their Masterclasses section from the workshop with Maxim Vengerov late last year, at Sydney Conservatorium of Music...

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Kage Collective August issue out today

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Kage Collective August issue out today

The new edition of Kage Collective essays is out today, with new work from just about all of us. It's summer over in the Northern Hemisphere, so a lot of us have been on the move or on holiday recently - including myself - so our stories this month reflect that.

Here's a bonus image that didn't find its way into the story this month - I don't often do double exposures in-camera, but thought I'd take another look at it this month...

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Witches with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra

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Witches with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra

I was working with the good folks at the Sydney Symphony Orchestra again over the weekend, at the premiere of a new concert called Witches - featuring four Australian stars who've all played, well, witches, both here and overseas.

Helen Dallimore and Lucy Durack represented for Team Good Witch, having played Glinda in Wicked on the West End and in Australia respectively; and Jemma Rix and Amanda Harrison combined forces for evil, having both been Elphaba in Australia, New Zealand, and on tour through Asia as well.

The idea was to get them together, and put together an extravaganza of music based around that theme...

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Photographing the arts: what makes a great production image when the story is well known?

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Photographing the arts: what makes a great production image when the story is well known?

In a previous post, I talked about photographing a show that is unknown to its audience; my point was that the best publicity images are ones that leave an air of mystery - that pique the viewer's interest, and make them want to know more. But what about a show where the story is well known already - like a panto?

I was working recently with Bonnie Lythgoe Productions on their winter show, Cinderella, at the State Theatre in Sydney - and that's what made me really start looking at this question again.

Because really - the story is a given. So what you want to show in a still image is twofold - what's different about this production, and at the same time, what's familiar about it? How can you show off both the uniqueness of this version, and also capture the feeling of a story that's been told again and again, for over a hundred years?

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Kage Collective June edition out now

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Kage Collective June edition out now

It's the middle of the month, so once again the Kage Collective has put together a collection of essays from our various points on the globe, including a new essay from me, captured at Sydney's Vivid Festival of light recently.

This month we decided to limit ourselves as a group to a single lens - the equivalent of the old standard 50mm, so 35mm on our Fuji cameras - and only photograph at night, which turned out to be much easier here in winter than it was for some of my friends at the higher latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere summer...

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David Bowie: Nothing Has Changed with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra

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David Bowie: Nothing Has Changed with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra

I've been working with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra a bit recently, and this weekend was their David Bowie: Nothing Has Changed tribute concert at the Sydney Opera House concert hall.

I'd been in a couple of weeks ago for rehearsals and to meet some of the production crew and performers, which was great - but they'd come a long way since that first day, including incorporating the orchestral musicians, which we didn't have there at the time!

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New Kage Collective essays out now

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New Kage Collective essays out now

The April issue at the Kage Collective came out recently, with a series of essays from around the world from members Patrick La Roque, Flemming Bo Jensen, Vincent Baldensperger, Bert Stephani, Derek Clark, Charlene Winfred, Kevin Mullins and myself - but I realise I've been slightly remiss in not mentioning this in February and March as well, when we had equally impressive collections of images from everyone!

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‘Suddenly Wellington sort of grew up’ - 30 years of the New Zealand International Arts Festival

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‘Suddenly Wellington sort of grew up’ - 30 years of the New Zealand International Arts Festival

One of the longest & proudest associations I've had as a photographer - and as a person, really - is my work over fifteen years with the New Zealand International Arts Festival. I moved to Wellington in 1997, working as a box office manager at the time, in part lured by the fact that the venue I'd be working on was the primary ticketing agency for the Festival, and moreover that Wellington would be the last place ever to see Robert Lepage's Seven Streams Of The River Ota in 1998...

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