Every year local Belfast group, Bruiser Theatre run a series of schemes that put young actors through their paces. They have a level 1, level 2 and graduate level scheme. As a Belfast Photographer it makes perfect sense for me to help them out. I am local and I understand as a drama company what they need.
For each of the levels and the graduate schemes I have two different photography set ups that I have to fulfil. The first (and slightly) chaotic are shots of the participants on stage in various group poses. Now I dont know if you’ve had to try and coral 14 young people in to position but I promise you its a tricky process!
Once (along with help from the lovely Bruiser Theatre staff!) we had the students on stage we got cracking. We had the use of the main stage in The Mac for just one hour and we had to rattle through several different set ups. No pressure! Because the main stage just had working lights on, instead of coloured spots I set up some speed lights to provide the main lighting. If I didn’t use the speed lights all I would have would’ve been the horrible yellow lighting from the fluorescence strips on the roof.
Two lights were set up in the seating bank pointing towards the back of the stage. These would be the primary lights. The two other speed lights would be set up at the back of the stage pointing towards the seating bank. These would provide fill light from the rear to ensure that the students didn’t disappear into a sea of black.
As well as the production stills shot on the main stage, Bruiser Theatre also wanted to provide each of the students a headshot. This head shot would have a dual purpose. Each student would be given one head shot so they could use it for their own CVs. But more importantly Bruiser Theatre needed a good clean head shot for their own program and website. The students all come from different backgrounds and as a result the quality of self supplied head shots can vary wildly. Better to get me in to take all the head shots, that way they are all the same across the range.
General head shots aren’t the most complicated things to achieve. Usually you can use one or two speed lights and away you go. What really makes the difference is making sure your subject is comfortable and relaxed. This is the biggest difference between awkward looking photos and something that really stands out. I only had around 15 minutes per subject so I had to cut to the chase really quickly. To give the head shots a little extra punch I added in a rear speed light and utilised a silver reflector. Both speed lights had soft boxes fitted.