Some Theatre Photography Tips
Here are some some theatre photography tips when shooting consecutive productions (LODS | Leigh Operatic & Dramatic Society’s “Spring Awakening” & “All Shook Up”). We place priority on processing images fast! The shoots for both took place during the first (and only!) dress rehearsal and the photographs would need editing and printing for front-of-house for the first performances the very next day. How did we shake things up a bit?
Previous photography examples by the company were tired and somewhat lacking when it came to a dynamic vision, so we proposed a more relaxed approach to rehearsal shoots and programme portraits. We created relationships that allowed us to build stories around each individual character / actor, and combined these with ideas usually explored in other disciplines such as fashion / lifestyle shoots. Shots from their rehearsals were previously left flat, lifeless and quite frankly rushed with little care and attention placed on creating quality content for promotional purposes. We altered the mindset by introducing new compositions that relied on dramatic angles and close-ups to portray the emotion in every scene. This brought forward a natural and unforced vision that allowed the actors to do what they do best. The camera setups were kept incredibly simple and consistent, and as we couldn’t rely on our trusty flash, ISO sensitivity settings were kept reasonably high!
Ultimately the goal is to produce content that justifies the quality of the final production from the talented cast and crew. The side effects included instilling passion and pride into the group, becoming infectious to other members related to the cast. Content remains timeless to create an endless archive of past shows.
“Spring Awakening” centres around various dark themes that focus on individual characters in the group. To emphasise these we looked at extremely high levels of contrast across all shots. These ideas combined with the naturally dark set and monochrome costumes to really portray a sense of the torment from each individual.
We focussed on a new approach that brought dynamism when compared to more traditional theatre photography. The minimalist approach to the production was reflected in the imagery. The company was always on stage which filled the gaps against the stripped down backdrop and we brought our own unique ideas when it came to the position of our photographers.
But ultimately, everything was made easier by the young cast. The passion and enthusiasm they brought to the stage was infectious, even when dealing with the mature themes on such naive characters. It was important to differentiate every aspect in each cast member for such a large group of the same age range. But most importantly, to capture the fun they all has on stage!
Theatre Photography for “All Shook Up”
The central theme for “All Shook Up” was colour and this was reflected in the theatre photography. We relied on a vast array of lighting techniques from the team that matched the pre-existing publicity in build up to the show. This naturally brought each character to life with minimal effort on the photographer’s part.
Another central theme was the relationships in the story, and so each series of shots focussed on the interacting groups to get across the idea of family and friendship. This covered sprawling shots for large groups as well as intimate moments between two characters.
The cast was HUGE and emphasis was placed on the show’s ensemble. LODS is a large society with a lot of members and it covers every aspect from dance, singing and acting. This runs rich through every production with a variety of characters, costumes and sets. It was a pleasure to capture this show.