Capturing Magic Behind the Scenes: Photographing Beauty and the Beast at the Princess Theatre, Torquay.

As a theatre photographer, there are few moments as exhilarating as capturing the essence of a beloved production like Beauty and the Beast. Last Christmas, I had the extraordinary opportunity to photograph a dress rehearsal of this timeless tale at the Princess Theatre in Torquay, Devon. Stepping into the empty theatre, with anticipation buzzing in the air, I knew I was about to embark on a visual journey which would have me smiling all the way through.

The Princess Theatre in Torquay, located right on the edge of the pier and sea, provided the perfect soul-lifting visuals for the short walk from my car to the theatre for this enchanting production. As I set up my equipment, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of privilege at being able to document the intricate details and emotive performances that would soon unfold on stage.

Armed with my trusty tools, two Sony A7 IV cameras, and a dual harness allowing me to seamlessly switch between them. On one camera, I had the versatile Sony 24-70mm 2.8mm GM2 lens, perfect for capturing wide shots and intimate details. On the other, I equipped the powerful Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 V2 lens, ideal for zooming in on distant scenes and capturing nuanced expressions.

Let’s see some examples from the show using this set-up…

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One of the advantages of photographing a dress rehearsal in an almost empty theatre is the freedom it affords. Without the distraction I would cause to a live audience, I could move about the space with ease, experimenting with different angles and perspectives. The dual harness allowed me to seamlessly transition between cameras, ensuring that no moment went undocumented.

I know people who use a single camera on a monopod for this work, but I prefer using the lightest lenses on two cameras, which are easy to hold up all throughout the show, whilst keeping the versatility to go from 24mm to 200mm quickly and effortlessly.

Throughout the rehearsal, I found myself drawn to moments of quiet beauty and raw emotion. The Sony 24-70mm lens proved invaluable in capturing sweeping panoramas of the stage, as well as intimate close-ups of the cast members. From the ornate details of the set design to the subtle nuances of the performers’ expressions, every frame told a story.

During scenes of grandeur, such as the iconic ballroom dance, the Sony 70-200mm lens allowed me to zoom in on the action with precision and clarity. The lens’s fast aperture ensured that even in low light conditions, I could capture the dynamic energy and grace of the dancers as they twirled across the stage.

As the rehearsal drew to a close and the final notes of the music faded into silence, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to document such a momentous occasion. Beauty and the Beast is a timeless tale that has captivated audiences for generations, and to have been able to capture it in all its splendor was truly a privilege.

In conclusion, photographing the dress rehearsal of Beauty and the Beast at the Princess Theatre was an experience I will always cherish. With my trusty Sony A7 IV cameras and a dual harness at my disposal, I was able to capture the enchantment of this beloved production in all its glory. As I look back on those images, I am reminded of the power of storytelling and the magic of live theatre, and I feel grateful to have been able to play a small part in preserving its beauty for the cast and crew to enjoy.

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Simon Day

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