Interpreting the needs of the Designer, lighting to match a mood, a time period, or a genre, is a challenge I relish.
Translights, historical recreations, crime scene photos, family portraits, I.D. badges, and surveillance photography… any image used in the body of the film, can be made.
There is a back story to every shoot, so click on an image and hover near the bottom of the image to read all about it!
Little Edie Poses For Macy's
In the film Grey Gardens, Drew Barrymore portrays Edith Bouvier Beale. In one scene she poses as a model for Macy's, a move that outrages her father. I had to photograph that model shoot and realizing that she was a method actor, I asked "Little Edie" what was the particular pose that so angered her father. It was the right thing to do as the images were spectacular and it cemented an opportunity to work with her throughout the rest of the film.
The joy of shooting for the art department lies in being part of the creative process. The Kennedys offered this opportunity daily. Working closely with Barry Pepper, the brilliant actor portraying Bobby Kennedy, was both demanding and creatively rewarding. A consummate professional, he was never content to accept 95%. So when it came to recreating original material with his likeness, including a portrait by Karsh, my lighting and the pose had to be exact. The lighting proved very interesting to mimic as Karsh used tungsten hot lights and I use strobes, both of which exhibit very different qualities. I was pleased to nail it. As to the pose, Barry was his own toughest critic but having seen the originals, I can assure you that he got to his 100%.
Almost The Perfect Poster
Drew Barrymore portraying Little Edie in the Poster for Grey Gardens. We attempted to copy the original as closely as possible from point of view, perspective, lighting and so on, only to be told that the pose would have to differ due to concerns over copyright. Regardless, it was what Drew brought to the shoot tirelessly every day that really sold the look.
Mrs. B. is Dead
Crime scene photos always present challenges but this one involved keeping the blood on our prop carpet and off the real antique underneath it that was absolutely priceless and irreplaceable. Shot for the television pilot L.A. Confidential
If ever there was a classic art department shot in television dramas it would have to be the surveillance shot of the bad guy. They are great fun to shoot and typically the longer the lens, the better. In this case, just a 200mm with a bit of foreground smash although I have often done similar images with a 600mm.
The I.D. Badge
Another essential image with the Art Department is the I.D. Badge, the Mug Shot, the Business Portrait. These mainstays of prop imagery are used all the time and despite an assertion that a quick snap of a cell phone is good enough, there is no question that when the image is properly lit, when the mood and personality of the character is brought out by some subtle direction, that the final photograph, no matter how fleetingly seen on the screen is better for having been captured by the Stills Photographer and real gear.
The Translight image makes such a convincing background that when watching the film, one could swear the location was real and not a studio set. Such is the case with the top image, a still (someone else's) from The Time Travelor's Wife; I was sent to Chicago to shoot multiple digital images that were stitched together to form the panorama you see behind the gentleman's head. In the case of Cheaper By The Dozen 2, I shot twelve different images on 8X10 inch film and they were stitched together to make a 20 X 120 foot Translight. Today, I use a robotic device called a Gigapan and shoot hundreds of images that get stitched together with highly specialized software that I use that comes from Sweden. The multi gigabyte files are flawless, look like they were shot in a single image and can be output into truly massive prints.