A mugging in the mist, a betrayal in the Royal Court, a rampant elephant in small town America, a tragic love story in Covent Garden, a play without a title...
Photography for theatre and musical show productions can be both challenging and rewarding. Participants in this series of workshops gained first-hand experience of what is involved (little light, a lot of haze and fast action is typical). Full competence with a camera was not essential as an early session was devoted to some general photography fundamentals. The workshops were open to all students and staff from any discipline.
In addition to the practical workshops there was a visit to the Royal Shakespeare Company photographic archive in Stratford to review their images of some classic productions as well as a session with theatre photographer, Nobby Clark, to share some of his experiences. Nobby has worked for the Observer, the Sunday Times, the Times and the Guardian newspapers and for all the major English theatre, opera and ballet companies including the Royal National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company and both the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet. He also took the photographs of the last series of 'Red Dwarf', which were used in the book of the making of the series.
There were also opportunities to 'embed' some workshop participants in other active drama projects in order to record their development from early read-throughs to final rehearsals. Images captured throughout these projects will then be printed, mounted and displayed in a dedicated exhibition in the CAPITAL Centre, later on in the academic year.
The workshops were led by Peter Marsh who began his photographic career in newspapers in the 1970s and has continued taking pictures in one form or another ever since. He is currently a partner in ashmorevisuals and since 2007 has been working closely with members of the University Drama collective to photograph many of their productions. He has strong associations with the CAPITAL Centre, having worked on other projects such as The Oedipus Project, Arcadia and Play Without a Title with Fail Better Productions, CAPITAL's resident company.
The workshops' content include:
- A fundamental photography refresher with opportunities to practise the techniques
- Photographing a dress rehearsal scenario with full lighting in the CAPITAL Studio
- Photographing an early rehearsal scenario in the CAPITAL rehearsal room
- Talking to a new theatre company to get their brief for promotional poster and flyer images and then photograph them
- A look at post-processing techniques and opportunities to apply them to the images from the earlier workshops
Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust archive visit
Both visits to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust archive provided a fantastic insight into over 150 years of theatre production photography at the RSC.
Nobby Clark Session
The visit from Nobby Clark in November, Term 1, provided an excellent opportunity to quiz him about techniques, skills and the pressures of contemporary day-to-day theatre photography. As well as answering the question 'Do you shoot digital?'
Malcolm Davies Session
Malcolm Davies, who has photographed virtually every production at the RSC for the last thirty years came to talk to Darkling Image participants in February, Term 2. Wih an abundance of example prints to hand, Malcolm provided an afternoon of entertaining anecdotes and a compelling argument for shooting with a brace of trusty 35mm Minolta cameras. Examples of work, chosen by Malcolm himself, are included in a gallery here.
Opportunities in drama projects
The list of photographic opportunities is growing. See the link under the Darkling Images main heading on the left.