How To Shoot Theater Photography ?

In the world of arts, photography is everywhere. It’s all about expressing new ideas to the society and that’s what I love the most about “theater”. In a stage you can feel the emotions and see the actions of the actors, and for a photographer this is one of the most incredible jobs; actors know how to express themselves and for us is a precious moment!

How To Shoot Theater Photography

Today, we’re going to talk about theater and how to have a great shoot on it. By experience this can be really complicated; because there’s less light, more movement and you can’t make noise. So, let’s start to see what’s all about!

1. The Parameters

This is the most important thing to know. In a theater the lights are very important, they’re part of the history; this could be very interesting for the pictures but at the same time could be a nightmare for the photographers, here we present you the presets you should know about for this type of photography:

ISO: The sensibility of light needs to be higher, between 400-800, more than this can give you lots of grains and a bad quality.

The Shutter Speed: The speed of the shutter needs to be at the maximum you can to take advantage of the movement, but this will be chaos for a good illumination, so you need to put a low velocity and synchronized it with the actor’s movements. You need to have a good eye and an excellent precision.

The Diaphragm: This needs to be very open, a lightly lens will be the perfect accessory for you. If there’s too much light in the theater it’s better to increase the velocity than increasing the diaphragm.

May, you’ll be asking “Why don’t we use a flash and make everything easier?” This is an excellent idea the thing is that most of the time is not allowed to use flashes in the middle of the show, it can be very perturbing for the viewers and annoying for the actors.

The only exception to do use an external flash: If you’re taking pictures of the final rehearsal or if you have a permission from the producer and the theater to do it.

How To Shoot Theater Photography

2. The Angles

The way you look through the lens is very important in this type of photography; you need to choose different angles so we can see the different actions of the actors. Also, this gives us the diversity in our pictures. Most of the times you’ll need to be on your knees and act like a “ghost” between the people, you don’t want to perturb the audience. Using different types of lenses will give you the option of variety, but for this type of photos you’ll need a 50mm and a telephoto as the basic ones!

One good advice: Use people or objects as reference, and take pictures behind them, so you’ll get the feeling “eye of the viewer”.

How To Shoot Theater Photography

3. The Sound

You need to be very careful with the noise of your camera, because all the reflex’s cameras do a noise when they’re shooting; you need to synchronize when the actors aren’t talking to take the picture. It all will depends on which theater and the place you’re shooting, because if it’s an outdoor play there’s no problem with it, but if it’s an indoor play you need to ask for permission. Maybe you were hired by the theater or by the producer of the play, here you have immunization, if not you need to be very careful with this.

How To Shoot Theater Photography

4. The Colors

For the post-production or to set up the white balance in your camera; you need to know pretty well the subject of the play, this is an essential! Because the colorization will depend in the story line, you can’t put a colorization or a duotone with rose if you’re shooting a mysterious play. So, this is really important to have pictures that match with the essence of the play if you want to have success in the arts business!

How To Shoot Theater Photography

5. The Expressions

For me, this is the most important part of this type of photography, you need to take the actors expressions; this is their passion, their job! You need to take photos from their actions during the play and the interactions between them, this is the only way to tell the story through the photos.

If you’re a freelance photographer, you need to impact with your photos to have great contracts after, and if you were hired by some magazine, producer or the theater; you need to show your best and let them know that they’ve did a good decision!

How To Shoot Theater Photography

6. The Symmetry

The pictures need to have a good symmetry, mostly with the actors’ bodies. In a play the actors are always moving through the scenery and practically you need to follow them in every move. You need to take their actions in the right moment and the way they interact during the storyline, also you need to do a good frame and follow the photography rules at the same time; the way you distribute the objet/person in the screen, remember that you can help yourself using the digital grid of your camera.

How To Shoot Theater Photography

7. The Personality

You must have a silence personality, but also you need to have an impact with an outstanding one, this will helps you to have great contacts for further jobs. It’s really important that your personality be calm and professional.

Also, you need to show the actors personalities; this is a must if you want to have good photos of the play. You need to show all the expressions and the little details of the body; like hands, legs, face, accessories, etc. that are telling us the story behind the photos.

How To Shoot Theater Photography

Here you have the basic rules to have successful photos in a theater. Remember, this is one of the most exciting but difficult types of photography; you need to mix all your knowledge in the photography area to have success. Don’t forget you’ll be like a ninja; moving around without doing noise but registering the whole play! Good luck and see you in the next post!

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