Photographing The Arts
A series of essays about being a stills photographer in the world of theatre, dance, music, opera and events; if you've got questions you've always wanted to know the answer to, let me know!
Photographing The Arts
A series of essays about being a stills photographer in the world of theatre, dance, music, opera and events; if you've got suggestions for future topics, let me know!
Analysis - what makes a great production image?
Business - on working as a photographer in the arts
Editing - turning what I’ve captured into great production images
Equipment - the tools of the trade
Marketing - on creating images that work for productions, and beyond
I’ve written before about the range of different ways a photographer can be involved in creating images for a production; and in my other essays on photographing the arts I’ve tended to focus on the actual production stills taken on stage, so it’s about time I looked at the poster / promotional image side of things.
There are a thousand different ways to go about creating a ‘teaser’ or promotional image for a show, so this is just an example of what we did in this particular case; but for me, the overall approach is usually the same: get to know the script, the characters and their relationships, find out about the design & directorial concepts for the production, come up with some visual ideas that underscore elements of what’s being created, and (if necessary) scout for locations that will work for what we want to achieve.
In this case, for the Darlinghurst Theatre Company production of Once, my feeling was that connection lay at the heart of the story - the relationship between Guy and Girl (as the characters are known), supported by the community of musicians they encounter through the course of their story…
For me, this show started in a warehouse, lying on the floor.
The director, myself, and a model needed to put together an image for the Mardi Gras brochure, before casting was even underway; so we worked together (on the floor) to come up with a look that could say something about the production, without revealing too much - either in terms of the show, or the body.
Because we did know at least that - there were certainly going to be bodies, on stage...
When I was photographing a theatre production recently, I had a quick conversation before the dress rehearsal, which went something like this: "Hi Robert, I'm the designer on this show - could you make sure you take some wide angle shots for my portfolio?"
Now, that's a perfectly normal, common and reasonable request - and one that raises an interesting question in terms of this sort of work: who exactly am I working for, or responsible to, when I photograph a show? And, how can I make them happy?