Radioactive film

7 April 2020

This is how you build a superhuman theatre photographer, says Beatrice Debney

  1. Super strength: A typical theatre production lasts 2 hours, a Canon 5D MK III weighs 950 grams, a 70-200mm lens weighs 1490 grams, so that’s you carrying two and a half bags of sugar at arm’s length for 2 hours – time to get those reps in.
  2. Super knees: Theatre photography positions include squatting for extended periods of time, climbing up onto platforms, chairs and unstable ledges, and leaping across to the other side of the stage.
  3. Super speed: The actor has just walked down stage left to deliver their big heart-wrenched speech. You are upstage right – RUN.
  4. Super agility: Theatres are full of obstacles to fall over, causing a large disturbance and distracting the actors, this will always happen during the quiet and tender moments – always.
  5. Super eyes: The stage may be lit, the auditorium is not, please refer to above point.
  6. Super selective: By the end of a shoot you will have hundreds of pictures. Marketing managers DO NOT WANT HUNDREDS. Your super selection skill will help you narrow this down to a cool twenty.
  7. Super divination: A theatre photographer must be able to predict the future if they are to be in the right place and on the right camera settings in the next three seconds.
  8. Super stealth: A theatre photographer is a fly on the wall, the actors should forget you are there ­­– until, that is, it is time to go home, then you really hope they remember you because super escapology is not one of your special skills.

@noffmag / [email protected]

Photograph: Beatrice Debney