Theatre Photographer for the dress rehearsal of ‘Shrek’, at the Princess Theatre in Torquay, Devon

I really do love Theatre Photography and one of the best parts is being the Photographer for dress rehearsals. A local amateur theatre company put on one of the most professional productions I’ve seen to date! Let’s see how it went and how I was able to deliver the first 90 promotional photos within 3 hours of the show ending…

TOADS Stage Musical is based in Torquay and this was the first time they had asked me to be the photographer for their company. These jobs usually come in 2 or 3 parts. The first is headshots and group shots for the programme and advertising. Sometimes there are requirements for some on-location shots for promotional material, but there was no need for this performance. The third, and for me, the most exciting part, is photographing the dress rehearsal at the Theatre.

The dress rehearsal is usually the day before the show goes live. That means a very fast turn-around is needed to deliver at least a good amount of the photos. Part of the fun (and challenge) of theatre photography is the lighting and the issues it causes for photography (I’m looking straight at you Purple Beam of Doom!). Thankfully, the LX on this performance was on another level! In-camera, the skin tones were pretty much perfect because the lighting was so well done.

These are edited but I didn’t even need to use one my own presets, it’s mostly just highlights, shadows, and masking the pit in front of the stage to be darker for the wider shots…

The Princess Theatre is a Theatre I love photographing in because it has a central aisle. It may surprise you to know that not all Theatres have that central aisle. Having one allows me to much more easily use prime lenses. I can zoom with my feet, up and down the central aisle as much as I need to.

There were no fireworks or explosions for this production so I was able to also use the stairs either side of the stage to get closer when I needed to.

Theatre Photography gear used

I went with my usual set-up for this show:

  • Sony A7IV
  • Sony A9
  • Sony 85mm f1.4
  • Sony 24mm f1.4

That was it for this one. Nice and easy, very little banding or flickering.

Photo Editing Talk

I use Lightroom to edit all my photos. I also use my own presets which I’ve honed over the years. For this project, I didn’t even use one.

My presets for Theatre work are mostly around the lighting issues I often face. A lot of venues love using a solid purple light, and/or a solid blue light. These spotlights, whilst looking good live, make the cast in the photos look like a Ribena or a Smurf.

So my usual Theatre presets tackle the more problematic colour balance issues I face.

In this case the LX was so good, that I used just the basic sliders and a bit of masking.

I will always deliver a decent chunk of photos from different parts of the show within hours of it finishing. By 1am I delivered 90 photos. By mid-afternoon the following day they had the remainder 500 photos for the cast and crew to use (for free!).

Do you need a Theatre Photographer? I’d love to have a chat with you!

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