Monday, May 6, 2013

3 into 1 can go

A friend of mine, Glynis Casson, calls on me from time to time to help out with stage performances that she puts on in various places.  She has a bit of a pedigree!  Her grandmother was Dame Sybil Thorndike who won't mean too much to most of you but she would have been the Judy Dench of her day.  Her father was Christopher Casson who came to Ireland in 1946 and worked on stage initially but was probably more well known for his part as Canon Browne in an Irish soap called "The Riordans".
Down through the years she has played various parts in various musicals and other performances and now has put together a number of productions in which she plays the solo part or as part of a collaboration with other singers or musicians.

A recent creation was with a friend of hers (and mine), Irene Gaffney, who is no stranger to the stage herself and whose father was well known around the country for his lead roles in musicals as well as performances on radio and television.

Glynis and Irene, with some critical direction from another involved in stage - Tom Singleton - put together a collection of words and songs designed to entertain and illicit a laugh or two.  Think Victoria Wood but twice.

I went to see a preliminary performance (a sort of dress rehearsal) and enjoyed it immensely.  I felt it needed to be advertised a little better than by word of mouth and suggested that maybe a poster with the right design could do this.  That initial suggestion became a goal and I volunteered to come up with an idea.

So ......
Their production is called "Ladies who Lunch".  Some of the witticisms and humorous songs portray "Ladies who Lunch" all too well.  I saw wealthy women of indeterminate marital status who would regularly meet to 'do lunch' and wear clothes and jewellery to show off their status and vie with each other to be the most stylish and well-to-do.  All this and just missing the mark.  I envisioned them with cocktails and also wanted to suggest that they were in a posh restaurant - probably a hotel.  I described the idea to Glynis and Irene and they were very enthusiastic.  We enlisted Tom as the waiter advising him that his face wasn't really needed - just the body as a prop!  Before I go into any more detail, this is the finished photograph that will be used by the graphics designer to create the final poster.

I wanted to photo to have a mono feel to it without actually being mono.The only real colour I saw in it was their lipstick and the waiter's waistcoat. Their outfits are black and white.  Glynis (on the right) is wearing a hat that has blue in it but that's almost mono.The jewellery is a little over the top as are their outfits.  The waiter suggests posh with the white gloves and the silver tray.  I deliberately chose the back view so that his face didn't distract the viewer's attention from the two ladies. I did a series of poses with mobile phones, having 'gossip' conversations and 'pointing' out the not-so-stylish people who might also be in the restaurant.

My original intention was to shoot all three together and then we'd review them and pick the best one and maybe tweak it by shooting slight variations of it.  As is usual with the best laid plans of mice and men, things didn't go quite to plan.  First of all, Tom had to leave early for a rehearsal so while the MUA was working on the two ladies I shot Tom on his own.

The lighting setup was fairly basic.  I was lighting everybody the same way - two long strip boxes, one on either side of the background to light it.  A large and smaller softbox to the front to give butterfly lighting.  So Tom's shots were ....

I did a few different shots just in case.  I had told Tom that he was just a prop and not a person in the photo so he wouldn't be too put out.  I finally chose a shot of To that was close to what I wanted but it needed a bit of fixing.

The shot on the left is the original.  The one on the right is the one I used.  Besides the creases that needed a bit of 'ironing' (not too much) the two biggest problems were the apparent curve in Tom's back created more by the lighting than Tom, and the gaping sleeve on the right.  I fixed those and now had my starter picture.

Then it was the ladies' turn.  I was hoping that I could use a single shot of the two of them since they were acting off each other.  I gave them a couple of ideas like talking on their phones, people watching and judging, etc.  The collection is below.  I'm not sure whose idea it was to pinch Tom's bottom (probably Irene) but it seemed like a good idea and it was the one we all agreed to go for.  That is the shot bottom left in the group of photos below.  However, they agreed that a different shot of Glynis should be used and that was the picture top left.

Pic of Irene cut from original and pasted into the composite.  I felt her hair was a little unbalanced so ...

I copied her hair from the right side, flipped it, placed it on the left side, made a few edits.

Then added some burning and dodging to her eyes and eyebrows.

Added Glynis .....

A little dodging and burning and a finished picture.


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