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Monday, October 29, 2012

The Question, October 29, 2012

Picture Perfect
by Estelle Rosen

Joseph Ste. Marie is a graduate of Dawson College's Professional Photography program and Vanier College's Communciations program. He was the recipient of the Spirit of the Fringe award at 2011 St. Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival, and has since performed in the Montreal Shakespeare Theatre Company's productions of Titus Andronicus (2011) and most recently Macbeth. Over the past few years, he has put his D.E.C. in Photography to good use by photographing the QDF's calendar launches, the Montreal Improv Festival (MPROV), the 2011 Montreal Sketch Comedy Festival, Freestanding Room's Maydays 2012 and has done press photos for Blackbird (Shadowbox Productions) as well as the press & poster image, rehearsal and show images for Macbeth (M.S.T.C.). He has also taken improv classes through Montreal Improv and at Theatre Ste. Catherine, and has taken acting classes at the M.S.O.P.A and currently at I.O. Acting Studio.

What makes the difference between a good theatre shoot and a bad one?

To me a good theatre shoot has always been about capturing the moment, capturing the facial and the best physical expressions of the performers whether it's a dramatic scene or a comedic scene, without that it's just not worth presenting.

Lighting is always a key issue especially when the action is fast-paced because if you don't get a good light source, all you get are blurry shots and even if you do get them in focus, you'll run the risk of getting a lot of colour noise on your pictures. Never use flash. Not only is it distracting to the actors, in addition the results are not good if you use the pop-up flash on your camera.

Framing is always important because you don't want to have too much empty space in the image. You want to fill the frame with the performers and also capture the scenery in order for the image to be visually interesting. Having a good lens goes a long way.

Co-ordinating with the company is super important, especially if you're in a venue you’ve never worked in before. You need to know where you can and can't photograph. When you know the venue, everything becomes second nature and you know where the best places are to shoot. Just sitting in one spot will not always give you the best pictures.

In-between my scenes in Macbeth at the Monument-National in August, one night, I covered up my costume with my jacket and quietly went behind around the 360 degree stage, taking as many photographs as I could during the show. It's always a challenge because you don't want to distract the audience and the actors on stage. Because of the way the seating arrangement was, I had to silently move around as much as possible without anyone noticing, but even then, that's never easy to do.

You need to care about what you’re photographing. If the photographer doesn't have an interest in theatre, you can tell by the plain lighting exposure, bad cropping, or the lack of action shots where you just see the actors standing around without any facial or physical expressions.The photographers that do have an interest in theatre are the ones that go out of their way to give you the best possible images by getting the best angles, going as close as they can, taking a variety of close-up and wide shots to tell the story the actors are performing on stage. Because they know what they're looking for, it will always show in their work. If they don't care about what they're photographing, why should you?

See also Mr. Ste-Marie's Picture of the Week at CharPo-Canada for Macbeth 


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