Theatre Photographer for Sleeping Beauty at the Palace Theatre.

A do love a good Panto and is there much better than Sleeping Beauty? I was asked to come along and photograph the dress rehearsal so let’s take a look at how it all went…

This was a performance by Paignton Pantomime Productions and performed at the Palace Theatre in Paignton, Devon.

The best thing about a Theatre Dress Rehearsal is that the stalls are usually clear so I have almost all access to the auditorium. The musicians are also there so this is the show as it will be on the opening night. The opening night is always on the following day so this is the last chance to fix any issues before the first show.

The dress rehearsal is the time to stop/start a show if issues arise. The casts for the shows are so good, it is rare that the show is paused at all. Usually, notes are taken during the rehearsal for any minor issues that crop up.

Let’s take a look at some of the photos…

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I always arrive early and set-up early. Sometimes the lighting people will demo the lighting for me so I can test for any banding or flickering issues. Most Theatres now have switched, or are switching, to LED lights so banding and flickering are becoming more of an issue to be aware of.

Shows are also using projectors more and more for the backdrop, and this also has issues that need to be addressed. As you can see above, the new LED lights look amazing, vibrant and really pop, but they come with some challenging compromises to how you photograph the shows.

Palace Theatre doesn’t have a centre aisle, so that means I have to give more thought to my selection of lenses and position in the auditorium. I usually prefer shooting primes but when there is no centre aisle I can’t ‘zoom with my feet’, so I opt for zoom lenses instead. Although I prefer it when there is a centre aisle, it doesn’t really hamper anything I do.

I have two cameras with me and for this show, and on them, I opted for the new Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM2 and the 24-70mm f2.8 GM.

For Theatre photography I always shoot in manual. I lock in my shutter speed, usually 800-1000, and lock in my aperture, usually f2.8 to f4. I then control the exposure with the ISO. On the Sony A7IV I have two dials side by side on the camera so I can control the shutter speed and ISO with one thumb. The lenses have aperture rings on them so makes operating the exposure triangle really, really easy!

Do you need a Theatre Photographer? Please get in touch!

Simon Day

If you have a wedding, portrait, event or festival coming up please contact me. Likewise for portraits. Check out my social media channels: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter