Participants in my online creative camera course, Your Camera, Your World have been learning to photograph a live performance.
For ‘Beth’s Pick’, you will see Andrew’s submission. Mid-theme he said he shot 475 frames. This makes editing down to five awesome captures quite overwhelming, so we explored how to edit down to create an effective visual story. I also said to:
Imagine if you are shooting with a budget of $1 a shot for film and processing. (That was what I paid when I studied full time for three years – $1 a shot). Take your time.
- Trust yourself that you can do it, and,
- Trust that the images will come.
They practiced their shoot flow (the technical, left brain mechanics) for correct exposure, and married that with the creative, touchy-feely side of shooting a live performance (the right brain stuff, where the ideas reside).
Bringing to the two together is very challenging. The performers move around quickly, the lighting and sets can change, nothing stays the same for long. You can’t bring added equipment that gets underfoot or is distracting like tripods and flash equipment, it’s all hand-held with available light, baby!
The assignment was to submit five images that tell the story of a live performance. Here are Andrew’s pictures and comments that came with his submission, below:
‘I photographed the dress rehearsal of a show called Laying the Ghost. It is the story of a man who has a heart attack at the 70th birthday of his ex-wife. His current wife and mistress are all in attendance. A friend who can see ghosts then assists him to make amends with the three ladies.
I really enjoyed Live Performance. This was a very fun performance to photograph also, a very funny story! I found it difficult deciding the key points to shoot, so took many photos! As you may notice from the photos I tended to stay to the one side of the stage. I was a tad shy so didn’t feel comfortable moving about as I might disturb them. The white outfit of the main character caused havoc with my settings, but overall I was happy with the outcome.
1. This is not an easy thing to do. You’re in a public space, with people on stage performing, and you worry that your presence there will disturb the performers.
The thing is, you are there because you sought permission, and the performers are well aware that you’re allowed to be there. It is normal for a production to need photography. Your images help market the production and get the work out – so this means, they welcome your presence.
Secondly, performers have an extraordinary ability to block out what’s going on around them and focus on what they’re doing on-stage. Your presence there is pretty much not felt at all.
2. Andrew knew the story of the piece before he photographed it. This means he knew the inflections and emotions to look out for in the piece. He waited for funny moments, sad moments, and dramatic moments and clicked when it was time. He even included a capture with the blue lights which evidently linked to the title of the piece, Laying the Ghost.
What I love about Andrew’s result
- The variation of compositions – you can tell he is moving is feet and creating different compositions.
- The technical execution of his exposures – every capture is correctly exposed.
- The precise moments of capture – the ‘click’ happens at the cusp of each moment in the story.
- The five images tell a succinct story. It’s like sitting down to dinner and he has presented us with a great meal with all the elements we need to get the picture. The viewer can make the links and piece together what the story is about.
Brilliant stuff Andrew! You nailed it.
I’m so proud of you, and all the participants in Your Camera, Your World. I am seeing you all take leaps and bounds in your photography and most of all I can see the change in confidence levels, which is at the heart of it all.