This striking image shows how well a simple idea can work when done well. The shot is for large posters publicizing The Royal Exchange Theatre production of Antigone. The actress is Matti Houghton and her eyes draw you in from way down the street.
It is always a real pleasure to work with the actor playing the actual part. They have immersed themselves in the character and will bring much more to the shot than I could come up with alone. Despite being a simple idea for a shot it was important the mood was just right which is where their research and character understanding is so important.
Brenda Blethyn was kind enough to let us use her office in London to get this shot of her for the pre-publicity for the Royal Exchange Theatre production of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. It's a shame I don't have a 'behind the scenes' shot for this image as it would make an amusing picture.
Poor Brenda had to perch on an occasional table in the corner, sandwiched between a filing cabinet and kitchen whilst my assistant raided her broom cupboard for sticks on which to hang the 'glass menagerie'. Meanwhile the marketing officer is busy trying not to drop the delicate glass pieces, whilst attaching them to fishing line and various broom sticks, and I am trying to light the corner with whatever lighting we had been able to carry on the train. How we managed to to come away without any breakages or injury I don't know but I think it was worth the effort. Brenda Blethyn was a delight to work with.
The production was a joy to photograph as well.
It's not all actors and people.
Here is a quick before and after shot of a recent job for Mercedes-Benz. The studio is a hire one, as my 2nd floor studio doesn't exactly lend itself to driving a car in. I don't get to play in a studio space this big all that often and it makes an interesting change to my usual excursions into theatre and location shooting. Here it was just me, an assistant, a multitude of tungsten lighting and a very expensive Merc.
School never really introduced me to the works of William Shakespeare and if they had it probably wouldn't have made much of an impact. My first introduction was a Royal Exchange Theatre production some years ago and I have grown to love them all.
There is an interesting difference between seeing a play as part of the audience and photographing it. To photograph it means allowing yourself to settle into the rhythm, to get a feel for the action, and to some extent get into the head of the director. This is essential to capture as much of the action and intimate moments as possible. The plot and dialogue have to take a mental back seat and are sometimes missed but this does not diminish the experience, just changes it. I like to think it changes into a more cerebral experience. A synopsis by the press officer will help fill in the gaps, left by my education and my concentration on the job in hand, but does feel a bit like cheating. Like copying the cover notes for a school essay.
The pressure to deliver is also on when someone like Pete Postlethwaite is in the cast but as ever he delivered a great performance and made my life easy.