In November 2021, I replied to a call for help after Ludwig Theatre Arts had been let down, at very short notice, by a photographer. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, or what would be expected of me. So off I went to the Assembly Rooms in Ludlow and photographed the cast of Junior Annie. I had a few hours doing headshots of the cast, and a few stage shots, it was brilliant. I loved it! However, I expected it to be a oneoff.
Not long after this, Jack emailed me to see if i could do another shoot, this second shoot, for "Aladdin", was more involved with a cast shoot, followed by a dress rehearsal shoot. The costumes were really quite astounding and the makeup amazing.
This is Oli, who is a quite extraordinary young man, a thoroughly gifted actor, in my opinion!
After Aladdin, we moved onto "The Vicar of Dibley". This is an entirely adult cast, and as such, there was a different feel to this shoot.
The setup for the shoot can clearly be seen. The main light is to the right, with a separation light to the left. There is a reflector just in front of me. This is to add light to the actors faces, avoiding shadows in unwanted places. In this photo, I am explaining where I want the actor to look,(directing) so that i can get the shot. I was very pleased the the shots I got that day.
I waited for a gap in the rehearsals - they had a 15 minute break, so I shot the entire cast of eight people in that time. Not the best way to be taking headshots, but with the setup I had, every single shot came out pretty much spot on.
This last shot is of the whole cast. The show is being held at St Mary's Church in Tenbury.
Eventually, after I have photographed the cast in rehearsals, the show moves to "dress rehearsals". This is a way more challenging photographic scenario. With the previous portrait style shoots, I have control of the lighting. Once we move onto the stage, I am at the mercy of the stage lighting. Essentially the theatre stage is completely dark, with the lighting supplied by a seemingly endless number of spotlights. The spotlights are very bright, and are often too bright for the purpose of making a photograph. What I try to do, is to guess where the actors will be, and who is going to be speaking. The lighting crew then light that actor! I then have a very brief moment, with the light just right and the actor in just the right spot, to make the image. The Courtyard stage in Hereford is huge, often the actor might be 5 or 10 meters away from me, making the shot quite awkward. This involves me, moving across the very front of the stage, backwards and forwards taking multiple shots, trying to synchronise my photo with the lighting. I frequently climb back up into the auditorium, to gain some height, so that I can get the shot that I want. An amazing thing is just how many of these shots come out really quite good. Occaisionally I get some really cracking shots.
The main production for Ludwig Theatre Arts for Christmas 2022 was a production of "Jack and the Beanstalk" at the Assembly Rooms in Ludlow. I made my way over to the theatre for the dress rehearsals. The first part was portraits of the cast. I set up the studio on one of the landings, but not in the fire-escape! This was just breathtaking, the principle actors in costume and makeup. They were just utterly fabulous!
After nearly 4 hours of shooting it became apparent that we were going to run out of time, a lot of the cast are quite young and have a curfew of 9pm. Therefore, the following night, the "Opening" night I returned to Ludlow to shoot the live show. What an experience! The show was very funny, with some brilliant songs interspersed throughout. Clearly I had to sing along with everyone else in the audiance. It was a sell out performance, so I perched on various steps and chairs to get the shots. It was stunning.
Over the two nights I took nearly a thousand photos!
The most challenging part of these shoots is post processing the images. I am very strongly of the opinion that I must get it right in camera. Most of the photos I take for the theatre company, are to use in their social media and other promotional material. Therefore after shooting the dress rehearsal in the evening, the theatre company would like the photos the following morning, so that they can use them to promote the production, which will be on that evening - eek!
I inspect each photo for focus, if it's not in focus, it gets deleted. Then colour balance, this is quite an issue for the on stage shots, as the stage lighting is so many different colours, and I want to show the actor in the best possible light/way. I sometimes alter the contrast a little too. I frequently crop unwanted bits out of the final image. Once I have worked through the 400 -500 images and converted them to JPEG, I then downsize them, and upload them to my Google photos page. This acts as an effective backup and a distribution tool. This all takes ages, despite the computer being quite powerful. They are ready for Jack in the morning, and I am tired, but happy.
I had not heard of any one doing theatre photography before getting involved with Ludwig Theatre Arts. Its amazing, very fast paced, dynamic, and severely time constrained. However it is a great deal of fun, I get to meet the most wonderful people and best of all I get to make hundreds and hundreds of portraits.
Jack and everyone else at Ludwig Theatre Arts are such a pleasure to work with, everyone involved seems to enjoy themselves, no matter what they are doing!
I am available for all sorts of photography, portraits, the above theatre photgraphy, weddings or anything else that needs professional photography. I can be contacted by email, message or phone. Martinataxiom@gmail.com. 07770923503