Theatre Photography

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by dinodan, May 27, 2007.

  1. dinodan

    dinodan TPF Noob!

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    I quit my regular job and moved here a year ago to be with my elderly father. Since then, I've been doing marketing communications (writing) for a couple of clients. This has kept the wolf from the door and sure as heck beats commuting and dealing with office politics.

    I've always loved photography, and have been thinking of ways to use it to earn some extra $. There are several theatres here in town, and I had the idea to try pitching one of them on my doing some production / publicity shots for them. It's something I've always been interested in but have never done. I sent an email to the executive director of one theatre, basically saying that I'm an experienced photographer, but that I had not done theatrical work before. Because of that, I would only charge them for the photos that they use and would not charge by the hour.

    Lo and behold, I got an answer from the lady saying that she would like to talk to me! I'm sure that I can do the work. I have a 50 1.4, 85 1.8, 105 2.5 and 180 2.8, among other lenses. I plan to shoot mainly (even exclusively?) black & white, and can do both film and digital (though the D80 will only really work with the 50 and 85, unless I use a separate meter). Available light only, of course.

    I just don't know how much to quote for each shot that they want to buy. I plan to turn the purchased photos over to them on CD, not retaining any rights other than to use them in my portfolio for drumming up more such business. Any thoughts or words of wisdom?
     
  2. morydd

    morydd TPF Noob!

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    I have no words of wisdom from the photography angle, but they're most likely going to want color for publicity. And they're going to want color for archives. I've done some lighting design (I'm a lighting tech because I don't like doing the paperwork required to make a living designing.) and I can tell you it's very annoying when you've spent hours setting levels and choosing color to have a photographer coming and popping flashes at everything. It's hard to find a balance though, because film (and digital) tend to be much more sensitive than the eye, so getting something "perfect" on stage is very hard to duplicate in a photo. That should be your goal. Another way you might be able to pick up some money, is headshots.
     
  3. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Consider time spent and quality of the photography. Clients pay well for photos that they can use. If the shots are sort of a one time deal that is worth x amount of dollars. If the shot is next to their logo or forever being used that is worth x amount of dollars. Long story short; anywhere from 50 to x amount of dollars per photo. That barely touches the surface of what should go into each quote. Communication is key. Make sure there are no surprises.

    When I started my work was dirt cheap. Helped my "business" out a lot. A couple of times I kicked myself for not charging more. live and learn as they say.

    Notice that you did not mention a tripod. You are going to need one for sure. I would shoot mostly colour with some B&W. White balance is tough. Shoot tungsten and say a little prayer. If it is anything like the D200 it will have hue adjustments for the different temperature's. Experimenting is key and a lot of fun.

    Love & Bass
     
  4. dinodan

    dinodan TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the input. I had actually thought about using a tripod. I'm sure the lighting will be tricky for color. The D80 does have fine-tuning for color temps, also white balance "bracketing".
     
  5. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    I have shot a couple of shows lately (I had been in the theater for years but have not participated for the last 10).

    If one looks at stage shows, there are often important moments where everyone - or almost - everyone is still and in very shootable poses. The director actually blocks the movement for these moments. These are perfect moments to shoot.

    In order to know when/where these are, I try to see at least two rehearsals before the dress rehearsal - a runthrough and the tech rehearsal. I get the rhythm of the show and I know when the best shots are coming up. It's also important to get everyone in the cast as the prominent member in at least one shot.
    I just shot "Into the Woods" by Sondheim for a samll community theater. A slide show that they use on their site is http://www.slide.com/r/TUailLeF5z8XlsW9wiQ3kEsLNz1TReWD.

    I shot only digital, using a 50 1.4 (on a D70) and a 100 2.8 (on a D200). I shot on auto iso using RAW because the lighting was irregular and not very strong. Theatre lighting is by its nature shadowy, warm and patchy. People don't hit their marks and end up out of the lights so they'll be speaking or singing in a dark spot - or sometimes the lighting is just badly done. The pictures show some grain and color imbalance even after correction - but people look at this and realize that it is a show and it is very acceptable.

    I probably made 250-300 exposures in one 90 minute show, cut this down to 60 or so.
     
  6. smyth

    smyth TPF Noob!

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    well whatever you do, no flash! You want to capture the atmosphere, with the stage lighting it adds so much to the picture. Not to mention you don't want to blind the actors. This, along with concert photography would probably be my favorite genre of photography.
     
  7. dinodan

    dinodan TPF Noob!

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    Thanks. Not to worry. I have no intention of flashing anyone~:mrgreen: Seriously, that would be way too intrusive.
     
  8. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    I have been in a couple of plays that we make time for the photographer during tech week. That way you can get shots on stage with the light you want. Never hurts to ask.

    Love & Bass
     
  9. dinodan

    dinodan TPF Noob!

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    Well, the production is finally about to get underway. Last night was the final "non-dress rehearsal", though most of the cast members were in costume. I used the occasion to check lighting, distances, angles, etc.

    I only took a very few "action" shots, but here are a couple. I have them in color also (one included for comparison), but I think B&W works really well for this type of photography. Tonight and tomorrow nights are full dress rehearsals. I'll definitely stay for the full play tonight, and may go back tomorrow. It play opens on Friday.

    These were shot with the D80 and 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR. I also used my 85mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.4. ASA was set to 1600, white balance to tungsten. The color shots came out pretty well, though subtle variations in the lighting make the white balance quite tricky. Tonight, I'm taking the 55-200 f/4-5.6 VR as there's plenty of light and I think that the flexibility of the zoom will come in handy in following the action.

    If there's interest here, I'll post more photos when I have them.

    The play is "Accomplice", by Rupert Holmes.



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  10. S&C Graham Foto Design

    S&C Graham Foto Design TPF Noob!

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    hello,i like your shots.
    I Shoot allot of theater (dance and dramma)
    Yes Yes use no flash,ya gotta show the the lighting of the show

    as far as the bizz goes,,yes i sell prints but I mainly sell the service of shooting and covering the event.When a geust director rolls in they call me or when a national or international renowned show rolls thru.Dance schools allso hier me for there end of the year shows.
    sometimes the lighting dirrectors will hire me ,(they wanna see the lighting,,lighting,,lighting,its all about the lighting)of cource when you get to know the performers from shooting them all week,have them stop by the studio to view the shots.They will order prints.
    not shure of the pay scale there but I charge $200.00 an hour for the service (including post perduction) and stay biussy at that rate.
    Theater folks are just cool folk and fun to shoot and be arround..Lots of resorces for photographers,,,models,,props ,ive gotton great models by meeting them from a perduction.oh and if ya need a stage for a project,,well now you have accsess to one.
    I could post some theater woork,,but its not my thread.so heres a link to (mad world) a dance piece about 8 min. long (just one part of a long (verry long) dance show.
    its a slide show
    http://client.scgrahamfoto.com/ click on mad world
    hope this helps
    have a great day
    peace
    S
     
  11. morydd

    morydd TPF Noob!

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    While, as a photographer, the black and white photos are more appealing, I think you have to stay with color. The black and white hides much of the work of the scenic, lighting and costume designers.
    The juxtaposition of the bright, colors and vibrant pattern on the woman's costume in relation to the very traditional clothing of the man are an important thing to see, and that's lost in the black and white.
     
  12. The_Traveler

    The_Traveler Completely Counter-dependent Supporting Member

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    IMO, these share the same problems as many theater photos - they are shot almost from below. Could you take some shows from a higher pov?
     

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