Full dress rehearsal theatre photography at the Princess Theatre in Torquay, Devon

Ahhhh, it was SO nice to be back inside a Theatre photographing dress rehearsals again.

For many people seeing the Christmas Panto is a tradition. It is a very Christmassy thing to do! There is something magical about going to the Theatre, to see real people perform in front of you.

In this post, I talk about the show, the technical difficulties, and the camera equipment I used to get the shots you’ll see.

I love theatre photography so it was an honor to again be asked by TOPS musical productions to come to the Princess Theatre in Torquay and photograph the dress rehearsal for their show called ‘West End Showtime’, a one-night-only show that was performed a few months back.

I recently posted the non-dress rehearsal version of this performance, which was at a community hall in Torquay. This post is now the full dress rehearsal, on stage at the Theatre.

The performance was also joined by The Other Guys from London’s West End-stage. They were the only ones not in their performance attire, so I’ve only included one photo of the one who was the smartest dressed.

TOPS needed photos for their Facebook and Instagram accounts. I also needed to get as many solo shots as I could for the cast to keep. For this reason, the orientation is a mixture of landscape and portrait.

I had so many keeper shots I ended up delivering over 500 photos for the cast and crew. This is just a very small selection from different parts of the show.

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As per usual, the staff and team at Princess Theatre were super helpful and kind. I would like to thank them all again for treating me so well, it makes a big difference!

I love being a Theatre photographer, with all the challenges it brings with it. Not just the taking of photos, but the post-editing of any issues like lighting difficulties.

Theatre Photography Talk

There are not that many times where being able to shoot in manual is a necessity. Often Aperture or Shutter priority can get you through quickly changing scenes. With Theatre shows, neither of those are an option as so much of the scene is very dark, but changing constantly.

As a giggle, I tried Shutter Priority with Auto ISO. I needed 1/500 to capture the action so my camera decided for the scene, an ISO of 25,000 would be just right. In Manual, I had an ISO of just 800 for the perfect exposure. I played around with different settings, focusing modes and exposure compensation but nothing came close to the settings I had in manual mode.

Banding is sometimes another issue but this time I had none. What I did have, was a single light that I come across often and I call it “The Purple Beam of Doom”. Most lights evenly colour a scene. This one purple light casts blotches of deep purple on the skin and clothing.

Because it doesn’t cover the whole face it is impossible to remove in post. They had other purple lights and I had no problem correcting the scene on them. Anyone standing below this one light was doomed. It meant I had to deliver 12 of the 500+ photos as black and white photos.

I was shooting with two Sony A9’s and my usual 85mm and 24mm Prime Lenses.

Simon Day

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