I'm that photographer who watches silently while waiting for the moment to arrive and snap one or two frames, then quickly moves on to the next worth while split second to capture. Yes I'm that girl, the one who shoots on slow shutter. At weddings this style of shooting suites me just fine, however it wasn't until this last year I learned with this skill there is another genre that lights me up even more. Grabbing up a single moment, purely just off gut instinct as a Still Photographer on an Indie film starring Ed Harris called, "A Crooked Somebody," I really harnessed my timing. Rather hunting you could say, for the exact moment when I choose to fire away, just less dramatic.
Music Video Stills
A few years back I took a few photos during a music video for the punk rock band MEST, I was running second camera, and really, really liked stills far more. There is a completely different approach and art to being an on set stills photographer. I personally find more joy in capturing the hard working folks behind the camera and all the amazing components that go into making a video, than the on-camera talent. However capturing the personalities combined, different types of art coming together, it's quite a joy to see!
Feature Film Stills
Upon producing my first feature film Highway to Havasu, I had picked up my camera a handful of times and snapped a few photos of our amazing actors, incredibly hard working crew, and the star. Yes I'm talking about the Arri Alexa. Sorry I had to. Again I'm sharing more pictures of the crew and gear than the action on purpose. Reason one: these films are not yet released and I don't want to give away any spoilers. Reason two: this is Fstoppers and lets face it, we're all here for the gear and technical fun stuff!!
Being an on set photographer there's a few things you must have, depending on your gear of course. Keep in mind I had never done on set photography of a production that wasn't my own. Quickly I learned that you need a Sound Blimp when shooting with a Canon 5D MIII, as the old saying goes, "Quiet on the set!" you must be 100% quiet on the set. I will be purchasing an alternate camera for this particular type of photography work, but if you're looking for another option the sound blimp does the job at greatly reducing the sound of the shutter.
Documenting each set, is primarily one of the needed factors of the "Stills Photographer," you can be a great asset to the continuity of the film, as well as help document moments that will quickly be forgotten, amongst take after take. While I find myself shooting from a completely journalistic approach one of my favorite moments to capture is a fresh set right before action is called. Vehicles are placed, actors are anticipating their marks and the camera team is on their toes. Even after a scene is reset and we've all moved onto take two, it never feels the same as the first roll out of the gate.
It's safe to say every production, big or small that I've worked on has had some pretty epic, unique, or down right creative sets that I'm thrilled I had the opportunity to experience. Now, I know where a super sweet random broke down gas station happens to be, when the time comes!
I try to keep my clicking only to moments where it would not be over dialog and or extensive blocking is going to occur. I also stay out of the talents line of sight as not to distract and become a fly on the wall. If the cast and crew I'm working with is open to it, I prefer to shoot during rehearsals only. I swear these moments are where some real magic happens for cast and crew. These are the growing times where big decisions are made and changed, not taking away anything from the performances of the scenes that are locked and canned, I personally just prefer to capture the element of surprise in the actor and actresses faces when they are discovering their characters.
Setting the Mood
Since you are at the mercy of the on set gaffer's lighting, digging into some moody shots becomes a thing. Everything is lit pretty darn good and that light isn't going anywhere. This truly opens up my creativity as a filmmaker and as a photographer. Light casts from screens, moving shadows off actors passing through the set, all of this creates each scene and I get to play in it.
Check out a little more on these projects I have had the pleasure of working on. You can read more on "A Crooked Somebody" here at their IMDB page. Or view the trailer to film I produced called "Highway To Havasu" below.
Stay tuned as I plan to share more from up and coming gigs as well!