Last Sunday I went to the Helix to the Jerry Springer the Opera rehearsals.
I had been asked to take a photograph of the cast and not to make it look like a school hall group shot. It turned out to be a long day. The rehearsal went on and on and on and on .....
Eventually at about 7pm (5 hours later) and the exhausted cast had just finished a half hour later than they were meant to, I got to set up my photo. Hmmmm.
It was quick. Helped by Lily Greibere, I set up two shots. They weren't quite what I had envisaged but time wasn't on my side. I set up a large octagon in front of the stage and set the power to give me a meter reading of f16 so as to get enough depth of field. I was using a 24-70mm lens but couldn't be quite sure what focal length I'd be using because of the number of people that would be in the photo.
I had Lily hold a 'speedlite' set manually to a narrow angle and at a power to produce f16 to add a little extra punch to Simon Delaney (who plays Jerry Springer) who would be the centre of attention.
In addition I put two more 'speedlites' on either side at the back to give some lighting to the heads.
I asked the chorus not to look at the camera but look at Simon but to give me some attitude hence the facial expressions and the single and double-finger salutes.
The shot was not how I had envisaged it. I had figured Simon to be more prominent in the photo and the chorus to be all behind him. Logistically this was almost impossible in practical terms due to the number of people - luckily some of them were missing! If I had tweaked it the way I wanted it I probably would not only have lost more the chorus but also Simon as well, but to be fair everyone was very co-operative.
Having shot the chorus, I then wanted a setup with the principals.
Again, time had its way and one principal had to leave early. I quickly tried to set up the characters to represent something of what they did in the opera but without any help from anybody knowledgeable this was kind of sketchy.
The picture is far from perfect. There is little dimension to it - flat lighting. The trio on the right are much nearer to the camera than the group on the left and so dominate the photo instead of Simon. It can be hard to manhandle people!
I did have flare from the two 'speedlites' in the shot which looked okay on the back of the camera but there was a significant gap between the one on the left and the girl which made the shot look unbalanced so I had to crop the one on the left out of the shot.
So what did I learn?
When I'm asked to do a shot like this by another group I will ask to have the shoot put in the schedule with time alloted. I do shoots for two other companies and they always treat my photography as part of the production. Time is needed to do the shoot and modify it until it's right.
Discuss the ideas for the shoot beforehand so that there is a definite plan of what the pictures are to achieve.
Get the producer (and maybe the choreographer) to lend assistance to organising the people.
And to finish, here are some of the other pictures I took of a previous rehearsal .....