Stage Photography, Wedding Photography, and Portrait Photography are very different in some ways and very similar in some ways. All three concentrate on actual people, for a start. Actual people actually doing something. Putting on a show of some sort; a performance, be it musical or dramatic, a celebration of a major event in their lives, or simply presenting me with their face or body. Then they want me to record what I see.
The mood is quite different, naturally, between a wedding and a theatrical performance but my approach is essentially the same: observe, record, and stay out of the way. Incidentally I’ve been on the receiving end of all this so I know what it’s like. And I know what I don’t like.
When I’m not photographing other people’s performances, I’m often to be found on stage, doing my own. And there’s nothing as off-putting as having some chimpanzee leaping about the front three rows firing a camera loudly at me every eight seconds. I promise, if that flash-gun goes off again, he’s going to eat it.
A brief word about flashguns. No. Just no. Brief enough?
To be remotely useful from further away than ten feet, a flashgun would need to be powerful enough to illuminate the moon. Anything less is just annoying. So no. There’s light on the stage already; that’s how the audience know I’m on. Use that. If it’s too dark to get the shot, wait until it isn’t.
The key is anticipation and reflexes. Know what’s about to happen, or at least be able to react to it when it does. I’ve been doing this for many years, during which time I’ve sat through more dress-rehearsals than any man should have to. So I’ve got the hang by now.
I take a lot of photos of your dress-rehearsal, unobtrusively. If you need any prints for the wall I can get them for you. If you want a handful lobbed onto a Facebook gallery and whatnot I can do that. And afterwards, hopefully, I can sell the pictures to the participants on a DVD. If it’s a tiny cast I may charge to show up but otherwise I don’t. If you want promo shots and suchlike, if I think it will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship I’ll do it for cost.
I work with several amateur drama societies, musical theatre companies, operatic societies, dance schools, theatre schools, and the occasional semi-pro outfit. I also do school plays for several schools in South London. Their stuff isn’t up here for various safeguarding-related reasons, but all of them would say nice things about me if I asked them to.
Stage performance by its nature is of the moment. Once over it stays over. The great theatre critic Kenneth Tynan, spoke of his writing as “embalming the transient”. Before I noticed he’d said it I would often say I was “preserving the ephemeral”. His is better, but we’re on the same page. When it’s over and done with, you want something to remember it by.
So call me.