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Friday, January 6, 2012


A few weeks ago, I woke up around 7:30 with my daughter on a lovely Sunday morning. I fixed my breakfast, my tea and I was playing with her when all of a sudden my phone rang. It was the producer of a short film who needed someone to shoot the set photography and they needed me on that very night and the next day. I had to cancel my soccer game, give up to watch the Saints game and I had to switch things around to be able there on Monday as well, but I made it work as I love set photography and an opportunity to be on the set has not been coming my way lately. The film's name is Heaven.

One may wonder why I love to be on a film set. Some photographers find it boring. It is true that there is a lot of dead time where you either hang out with the production crew or you have to keep still and quiet for extended amounts of time. I am not going to talk to you about "the magic of making movies" etc. That's not why I am there. I truly love the movie set, because there is so much you can photograph. So many details for example. You can just observe and start shooting... You just have to be sleek and quick as many things' spots change fast, let alone the fluctuating light.

One of the most photographed items on the sets that I work is the slate. I think the camera would come at top, but that's definitely not a scientific data!

One of the first things I learned about photography was to change my angle. To always look for different ways to see the object you would like to photograph. One would have some limitations on the movie set as there are a lot of people, a lot of equipment and sometimes very limited space to operate. But at other times, I try to first visualize the shot before I even get to the spot I would like to snap the picture. Here's a couple of bird's eye views.

As far as the performances and the actors, I really love to be sneaky and to catch them at their most "vulnerable" moments. It is like a hunting game. You need to snap that picture before they notice you. Actually, the later they notice your strategy, the better! I took the one below right before a very emotional and physical scene: the actor escaped to the very cold December night in the San Fernando Valley in order to get ready mentally to shoot the scene.

I came to the break room to munch on some veggies, and I found the actress in her own world. I didn't say anything, I proceeded to the catering area and I snapped this photograph, which unfortunately brought her back on Earth. We took a few more pictures after this one, we basically goofed around. This was by far the most interesting one.

Those of you who follow this blog regularly know how much I love the reflection shots. I also love the screen within the screen shots. So when I'm on a movie set, I'm like a kid in a candy store!

Another beautiful thing on a movie set if you are lucky enough to have a good cinematographer with a good crew, is the fact that the set is beautifully lit. The challenge is to be ready with your camera. During a wedding, an event or a portrait session, you won't have to change your camera settings drastically. On a movie set, you will have to adjust the settings constantly and most of the times within moments. You would also need to learn to use ALL light sources (like LCD screens).

And, of course, the good shots are not always where the action is. This is valid for every shoot. Although, I got great portraits of the camera crew while they were hanging out in between takes, the one that would intrigue me most would be this shot of the lens case with them in the background. I had to walk away from a fascinating and hilarious conversation in order to get it.

1 comment:

  1. you are simply the best set photographer i know. without question!