upcoming theater shoot

Stan Halpin stan at stans-photography.info
Thu Jul 22 20:49:31 EDT 2010

My recently deceased father-in-law did many many theater shoots. From what little he said about his working process, and from seeing some examples of his work in a retrospective show the local arts group did a few years ago, my observations and thoughts:

1 - everything was B&W. Probably Tri-X. Maybe because of the color-balance issues others have mentioned, maybe because of his preference for B&W generally, most likely because he could comfortably and cheaply do all B&W processing/printing in his own darkroom. He never did get comfortable with color processing.

2 - he always used Leica and Hassleblad.

3 - he seldom used a tripod.

4 - AFAIK, he seldom used flash or studio floods. The equipment is here in the closets, but the photos look like he just had the actors in their normal spots on the stage and relied on stage lighting. The biggest challenge with this approach is the unevenness of the lighting. The lighting manager plays the lights to help focus our attention on key elements of the scene, he/she doesn't try to have an evenly lit scene. Therefore I strongly echo another's suggestion that, when you go see the play,  take notes on scenes where 2-3 of the actors are closely grouped and equally lit.

5 - See if there is a way you can get behind the stage and take some shots past the actors, showing the audience. Double process the RAW, once for the lit stage, once for the audience? Or use a variable-density filter? When Meg was "guest conductor" for our local symphony many years ago (an honor I purchased at a fund-raising auction), I took both video and stills of her, shooting from behind the curtain, and am quite sure nobody in the audience ever noticed.


On Jul 21, 2010, at 7:25 PM, Christine Aguila wrote:

> Hi Everyone:
> I've been asked to photograph scenes from the play "My Sister Eileen" which will open tomorrow night at a university near by.  The shoot will take place after a Friday night performance, and the producer said normally the shoot is about an hour long.  The cast is small (9), so I think I've a wide enough lens for a cast group shot.  I've requested a comp ticket, so I can see the show before the shoot, and they've kindly agreed.
> I'll be looking for good dramatic scenes, of course, and I've been told that there's nothing exotic about the lighting direction for this play--just standard stage lighting.  Has anyone had experience doing theater shoots? Any tips or suggestions you'd be willing to share?
> Thanks in advance.
> Cheers, Christine 
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