Studio Photos Taken for the Release of "The Dark Knight"

Studio Photos Taken for the Release of "The Dark Knight"

Update: Warner Brothers has asked us to remove the images.

Some images have surfaced on Imgur that show some white backdrop, studio images taken for the release of the original Dark Knight. From what I understand, these are images that poster designers would use to craft the extremely popular and highly lucrative (both as a movie advertisement and as individual sale) designs to support the movie. I don't doubt that these would also be used for models, action figures, and as references for computer graphics artists.

The images of Heath Ledger are particularly gripping to me. The photos are good from a technical standpoint, but they are excellent because of the posing. It's obvious that Heath mastered this character, and I understand now more than ever why that mastering eventually led to his death.



I'm pretty certain that one of these images was used for one of the most iconic posters from the movie. Take a look at these side by side:


You can see the whole collection here.

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Tate Davidson's picture

there is most definitely a lot of dust on that sensor!

If i were going to shoot those kind of photos I wouldn't let there be any dust and shit on my sensor for ANY reason

Amazing Photoshoppin from a POS image.

Nicholas's picture

Amazing images. And how wonderful it is to see more of Heath Ledger. What a loss to cinema, but what a blessing his contribution to what is, arguably one of the all time best comic book villains on film. 

I couldn't resist retouching one of the images here. Like the joker character himself, I only did it for sport. Thank you Heath, and many thanks to fstoppers.

 Damn, Nicholas. Great job!

Elliott Montello's picture

Anyone ever noticed batmans boots are a little bit rubbish compared to the rest of his outfit lol

i noticed that too. they look like strip-mall-quality orthopedic shoes. disappointing.

 haha...i thought they looked like the non-slip shoes servers have to wear

me too jjajaja

also heath is missing a button on his vest.

The Dark Room Co.'s picture

the one of batman kneeling is definite proof that these were used for the posters and other dark night imagery

nice post jaron...always interested to see stuff like this even after the fact

This post made me want to go clean my cameras sensor.

Ihab Mokayed's picture

This is the most amazing part, when you actually see the before/after pictures !!

So cool I love it :)

Why do they go with the clean studio shots and really heavy photoshopping?

Is it cheaper than setting up a scene and playing with light for the desired effect??
Honestly - if I were the photographer, I would be a little bit offended by how much they relied on retouching in this photoshoot...

I think its cheaper just to have a grey background and then photoshop whatever you want, but also practical.

Images could have been photoshoped differently for different looks, visions of director etc and for different branding. Easier to photoshop "clean", low contrast pics instead of stylized look. 

I hope you guys understand that the photographer was doing exactly as he was requested. Poster artists want precisely what was shot. As long as the shot is in focus (which is true for most of these) and the subject is well exposed on a background easily removed, the poster artist is happy. Dust on the sensor is not a big deal, and in the "burn and turn" attitude of a studio like this, dust happens. It's inconsequential for the final product. 

As a business person with the attitude of "the customer is always right," this photographer performed perfectly. 

Rebecca Britt's picture

I totally agree with you.

 I love looking up these untouched promo shots (like from Harry Potter ect...) and comparing them to the final artwork made from them. Very interesting. 

will edit something later!:) very cool heath ledger, watched the movie like 50 times already and has no plan on stopping:))

From seeing this, I conclude that light/photography/equipment don't matter. The only thing that matters is make up, posing and photoshop.

Lucky they have photoshop! This is some pretty amateur photography! 

And I'm not just talking about the bad lighting, the dirty sensor, the lens flare, lack of sharpness etc the whole session really, they were dealing with seasoned actors and the results especially the batman shots and even the end poster are pretty poor. But what ever they were doing what was requested.....

I think the reason you are seeing poor quality is because the studio probably has some chump and a dslr that has a whatever lens attached and never comes off, they snap a few photos and send them off.. you prob save THOUSANDS by not hiring a legit photographer.

I kinda disagree. Because of the dust on the sensor, I think that the lens comes off quite a bit.

John Godwin's picture

Yeah, that must be it. One of the most spectacular and eagerly anticipated conclusions to a film trilogy in the history of cinema. A $300 million budget, yet they skimped on a photographer to save a few hundred bucks.

Sounds plausible. 

I think you need to take into account how much time the photographer had. Can't remember who it was, but when Clint Eastwood was asked by the photographer if he could take a test polaroid, Clint replied, "you can take either the test or the actual shot". That was the poster for 'The Forbidden'. And vinterchaos, how many thousands do you think it would it cost to keep Heath and Christian in the studio for more than a couple of minutes?

Pretty much sure it was shoot by some cameraman assistant or by a still-photographer from the set. And people who do celebrity portrait knows how much time you get to shoot them (from 3~5 min) and in what conditions you have to do it. 
btw, if you look closely you can see that the background is set up on the movie set, probably in the studio... so probably it was really-really fast job. 

I've got a feeling a lot of people here don't actually 'know' what they are talking about in this instance.  If the lighting had a 'feel' or 'mood' then the poster artists has to stick to it.  I know guys who do movie posters (the recent Total Recall etc) and that sort of work is farmed out to multiple agencies who have multiple employees work on between 2-5 concepts, of which the film studio will use only a couple.  They ALL will have a different vision, but ALL of them receive the same files.  Low contrast means both shadow and highlight detail to do with what you will, sensor dust on a background that will immediately be removed is irrelevant.  This is GOOD lighting: because it did exactly what it was meant to do - provide retouchers with the information they needed.  Lots of people seem to want photography to be art, unfortunately most of it isn't and never will be.  Here the artists are the people using the images.  The photographer as a technician for helping them achieve this has done a good job.  I'd agree not amazing, but it didn't need to be.

Erik Tande's picture

 Well said. 

I think there should have be a photoshop retouching contest based on these photos. Some really basic guidelines should apply, such as... you may use up to a maximum of 3 photos from this collection to create ONE final promotion poster and any other material used in the final poster must also be previously unedited, public domain images or original content (just to put everyone on the same level playing field). Anyone have any other rules/guideline suggestions?