When I was living in Edinburgh I took some pictures for Ikram Gilani who was putting on a show about the boxing industry as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. The shots were simple as the show was basically a couple of spot lights and a couple of chairs. The lighting really suited my style of photography and you can see the set here.
Brett Hunter was at one of those shows and worked on some post promotion and I shared the pictures with him. This year Brett as part of Bright Ideas CIC was putting on a production of Wizard of Oz for all the local schools in the Lanarkshire area and asked me to come and along and shoot the production.
One of my stipulations was that I would be given full access to every area of the production, I would be able to get on stage during rehearsals and shoot a couple of the public performances. I essentially wanted to shoot in a candid manner but with everyone knowing I was there and giving me that freedom.
I flew up to Glasgow on the Saturday and went straight to the rehearsals which were double interesting because it was the first time some of the cast had met each other and also the entire set was being built at the same time. I wanted to get as much of the build up, backstage and practice as I could and on the first day I shot over 1000 pictures with around 70 being in the final edit that night.
Astonishingly that one and only run through was all the practice they had and on the Monday morning they had their first performance, I shot lots of backstage stuff and build up and on the first day tried to get more behind the scenes images. On the monday there were two performances, the first was (as you would expect) quite rough with technical issues with sound and almost everything that could go wrong, going wrong. In that kind of environment it’s hard to be sensitive to the panicking stage hands, music and lighting people and actors frantically trying to pull something together when everything around them is not working. To that end I don’t think I got a picture which eloquently illustrated this, only close.
The afternoon show was 100% better and it was only after this that everyone relaxed. The backstage shots from this afternoon were much easier to shoot as they were certainly more confident in their roles.
The second day I went out front to shoot the show from the audience's perspective, crouching in the pit and also moving out between the audience. I’ve never really been a fan of music photography where the shooter only gets to take pictures up the nose of the artist from the pit, I also now realise quite how difficult it is to get anything decent from that angle.
Now that I was familiar with the show and the way it was being performed I could start to think about the set pieces that I wanted to shoot that would give us the promotional type shots that could be used by the production company. I wanted to do family portraits and this is an area I certainly need to improve on, directing people and having the confidence to keep going until I get the shot I want. Knowing people had lunch to get and not wanting to hold up actors is all well and good if you’ve got your shot, I didn’t feel like I devoted enough time to this and the result is good but not spectacular.
After 4 days I was shattered, it was such hard work being on throughout three days of shooting, most of the time spent on your feet moving from one area to another and constantly looking for a shot whilst managing the multiple cameras was exhausting. Coupled with the editing in the evening, not enough sleep and a few takeouts ment by the time I got home on Tuesday night I was done for. Next time I shall do it differently, take better care of myself and be better prepared.