I really enjoy my relationship with Red Branch Theatre Company/Drama Learning Center. A little theater buried in a non-descript industrial park on Red Branch Rd. in Columbia, Maryland.
They have a well-deserved reputation for both developing young talent and producing theatre that is out-sized for what would be expected by the size of their theater and budget. Beyond that, they are a now 501(c) non-profit with a socially conscious mission to tie their productions to important messages for their community.
My latest work with them was for the area premiere of the musical First Date. When I was asked to schedule headshots, the date conflicted with a planned trip to Atlanta for Imaging USA. So, we had to push that back to the same night as production stills. So, now, I’m shooting headshots and production stills less than two days before the show opens all on the same night. In an attempt to simplify things, I had their awesome stage manager, Dana, send me a couple of set pictures while I was away. It was enough to convince me that I wanted to try to shoot the headshots in the set, a bar/restaurant which is the setting for almost the entire show. This would, at least, alleviate the setup and lighting for a backdrop.
Since we were planning on shooting character headshots, I could shoot with a bit more edge than I usually do for teenage actors. I originally planned on a 3 light setup. But that ended up too cumbersome for moving around the set to get a different setting for each actor. Also, I had a bit less than 30 minutes to set up and test before shooting more than a dozen actors. So, my key light was one of my Phottix Mitros TTL Flash For Nikon with a 1/2 CTO Gel and the Rogue Photographic Design ROGUEXLPRO2 Flash Bender 2 XL Pro Lighting System (Black/White). For the fill I used a second Phottix Mitros TTL Flash For Nikon with a MagGrid and a blue gel to give some separation and tie it into the set motif.
This lighting setup worked pretty much how I hoped it would. A nice separation from the background, some shape to their faces and yet they seem perfectly in place in the restaurant. 16 headshots, under an hour. *Phew*!
Now, I just have to shoot the production stills. I’ve talked about the challenges of shooting without knowing the show, the blocking or the lighting before. This was no different. I won some,
and I lost some… but, hopefully, you’ll never see those.
MORE PRODUCTION STILLS
I can’t think of a bad photographic experience I’ve had. Every one is an opportunity to learn, improve, meet people and make images.
I recommend making a trip out to Drama Learning Center and seeing what goes on in Columbia’s latest restaurant A New Leaf.
Book by Austin Winsberg
Music & Lyrics by Alan Zachary & Michael Weiner
January 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 at 7:30 PM
January 17 at 2:00 PM
Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door
Lauren Alberg, Flora Aubin, Patrick Campbell, Lila Cooper, Brittany George, Kendall Grove, Daniel Joya-Iglesias, Brandon Love, Aly Murphy, Naomi Muwowo, Ellie Parks, AJ Patel, Ava Pirie, Jason Quackenbush, Mark Quackenbush, Shannon Taylor
Directed by Stephanie Williams
Music Direction by Tiffany Underwood Holmes
Stage Managed by Lindsay Hopkins
Production Managed by Dana Fleischer
Lighting Design by Lynn Joslin
Props Design by Seth Julius Fallon
Costume Design by Shimra Fine
Set Design by Bush Greenbeck