Red Branch doesn’t usually do a photo session early in the production schedule to create styled images for promotional use. When they contacted me to do these I was more than happy to jump in. Sweeney Todd is a show I really like and have good familiarity with.
I spoke to the production staff to get a scope on the job. It would be shots of the two main characters Sweeney Todd (Russell Sunday) and Mrs. Lovett (Janine Sunday).
I knew I needed to play up the theme of their season, “Paint it Red”, and keep with the dark malevolence of the show. So, I expected to shoot in the big orange room rehearsal space that is my onsite studio and photoshop a context. With this in mind I stopped by the theatre the afternoon of the shoot to make sure I was on the same page as them.
It’s a good thing I did. While there I spoke to Chester, one of their set designers, who offered me some reclaimed building materials from his father’s yard. It couldn’t hurt to look. Right? Oh man. This stuff was perfect! It consisted of some really old, dirty corrugated steel siding and wooden shutters that looked like they had to be literally dug up. We set them against a wall in the big orange room and Chester produced bailing wire to “secure” the shutter to a nail hole in the siding. Instant set!
I think that looks fantastic, but it doesn’t quite have any mood to it yet. I only had 3 location speedlights with me for this shoot. I felt I could definitely dedicate one to the background. The look I wanted was a wash on the wall from a streetlight over head. So, I put one of my speedlights (the Nikon SB-800) with a RogueGrid and an Orange-y RogueGel on a boom arm to get it over the middle-ish of the background. By under-exposing the background and setting the white balance to daylight, I started to get the effect I wanted.
I almost had the look I wanted, but I thought Sweeney wasn’t menacing enough. I decided a light blue gel on the MagGrid lighting him, would give me more of the effect I wanted.
With a little post-processing, this gave me the look I wanted. That post-processing involved adding in a razor, since we were running ahead of the props department.
This gave me my Sweeney set up, but the client also wanted shots of Mrs. Lovett. Lovett is no less scary than Sweeney, but she’s somewhat more light-hearted. I didn’t want her to be as cool as Sweeney. So, she was shot with a warmer gel (1/4 CTO) on the Rogue Flashbender 2 XL Pro to soften the shadows a little and control the spill onto Sweeney and the background.
Again, there was a bit of photoshop to add the rolling pin and razor (a different razor this time) and toning to get the look I wanted.
So, it was a great shoot. I was able to execute my vision in very short order (about an hour, really) which can be important to some clients. Especially, when you are working into a production schedule.
I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the cast and working with them for headshots and production stills.