Behind the Image


It's been a couple of weeks, and as i said in a previous post, i will be writing about my recent shoots with Theater Oberhausen, producing the imagery for their 2018/19 programme.

Well, here comes the first in that series.

The shoot for the theater's new programme involved photographing the permanent cast of the theater in various situations, performing 'other jobs' in the local area. We visited a hospital, funeral parlour, and a kiosk, to name just a few locations.

Most of the shoots were carried out at night, in order to take a look in to what people are doing while the rest of us sleep.

Midnight pizza

Midnight pizza

These shoots presented of course one major challenge; darkness. Something that can be overcome with knowing what you're doing, and a little trickery with lights here and there.

One of the most challenging shoots however was the team photo. All the men and women who work behind the scenes at the theater, who of course deserve their place in the programme, joined by some of the cast who were around on the day.

Photographing 50 plus people and making it look interesting isn't so easy. 

Thankfully, Franca, who i mentioned in a previous post, was on hand with some ideas and some sharp organisational skills!!

The plan was: use the main stage in the theater, bring some props in, and get everyone to lie on the floor in some kind of organised way so it looked like they were doing their usual jobs - or somewhere close!

IMG_6820 2.JPG

From a technical point of view, figuring out how to photograph the stage from directly above was a bit of a sticky point.

Sending the camera up with the lighting rig was the simplest option. Then firing the camera remotely. 

Gaff tape and cable ties. A dream combo!

Gaff tape and cable ties. A dream combo!

Instead of using cables to connect the camera to a computer to take the shot, i opted for using my reserve camera, a Canon 6D, and using it's wifi function to connect to my mac and take the shot. Easy right - wrong!

First, the proprietary software which Canon uses to tether the camera remotely is junk! The camera and computer can't see each other automatically like the camera can with Canons smartphone app.  You need to first set up an ad-hoc network on the computer, then try and force the camera to see it. 

When you are finally connected, the connection drops every few seconds. And you can't use more stable software like CaptureOne - or at least, i couldn't get it to work. 

The dropped connection of course could be due to the distance between camera and computer, around 15 meters; but once i had moved myself, and the macbook up into the rafters nearer the camera, the problem continued.

I tried my best to get as close to the camera as i could. This made communicating with the stage difficult.

I tried my best to get as close to the camera as i could. This made communicating with the stage difficult.

Franca meanwhile continued to coordinate things down on the stage, with me having to send a screenshot from the macbook over WhatsApp every few seconds. This was of course only possible while the connection to the camera was holding and i was able to see something.

Several test shots later, we were ready to go - and of course, the connection dropped again. Wi-Fi off, Wi-Fi on, close EOS utility, open EOS utility - you get the idea of what a struggle it was!!

We did however get there in the end, and managed to pull an image out with so many things to look at! 


The image features on the inside cover of the new programme, and can be checked out online here!

There'll be more stories about the rest of the shoots coming in the coming weeks! 

Until then... :)

Late nights and mozzy bites!

Wow! Second blog post within a month. It's been a while since i managed that!!

The last few weeks have seen me once again out shooting for Theater Oberhausen. This time has been a little different to the usual production shoots though!

I've been working with the theater to produce the photography for the 2018/19 program. This involved photographing all of the actors and actresses contracted to the theater. 

The theme of this years program was to photograph the actors doing jobs that are usually done at night. So, the shoots, of course, took place at night too - with the exception of a couple in the early evening, and a few far too early in the morning!

Hanging out at the bakery early in the morning. Smelt good!

Hanging out at the bakery early in the morning. Smelt good!

Together with the theaters' head of marketing and PR, Franca Lohmann, we shot 19 separate shoots, including a rather challenging team photo involving all the stage engineers too!

The laptops view of the preparations for the team photo -. this will (have to) be covered in a separate post!

The laptops view of the preparations for the team photo -. this will (have to) be covered in a separate post!

The theaters cast were given the opportunity to decide on what kind of 'job' they'd like to be taking on. The first assumption many would have was that we'd be spending our evenings shooting at petrol stations or fast food restaurants; that couldn't have been further from the truth!

It's best not to ask! *not a real corpse

It's best not to ask! *not a real corpse

Ok, so not every shoot was as wacky as this one. But a funeral parlour really was an unusual place to be shooting! 

We also shot actors in some less high-brow occupations: a dj, market trader and a forest ranger (i got eaten alive by mosquitoes on that one!).

Life in the gutter.

Life in the gutter.

The actors were photographed performing their chosen jobs, and then a portrait in the same environment was made. After each shoot, we mirrored the first images using the actual person that does the job. 

The new program is released in the middle of June, after which, there'll be some posts going into more detail about each particular shot - especially that team photo! 

A great project to work on, with some wonderful people. And all of the people we met along the way that welcomed us into their workplaces were fantastic!

I can't wait to share more after the release of the program!

Until then! Thanks for reading!