Evaluation (photography)

To begin this project I had to research different photographers that took photos of theatre productions. At the beginning I was originally going to take photos of a pantomime show and portray the rituals that happen on stage during a performance, however, I then found out that I would not be able to take photos in time for this project due to pantomimes being usually performed in December. I then decided to base my ritual on the rehearsal side of pantomimes because I could then do a documentary style take on it by photographing them rehearsing on stage, backstage and getting ready in the hair and make up room. By choosing to do this, it ensured that I was still sticking to my original idea which I wanted to do because it was something that I had an opportunity of taking photos of.

I researched a few photographers, however, there weer four which inspired me the most for this project: Sally Mais, Matt Humphrey, Helen Maybanks and Helen Murray. These photographs all photograph the rehearsals of pantomimes or other theatrical shows which helped me a lot as I had never taken photos of any sort of rehearsals before where there were that many people. This is where I got the idea of editing my photos into black and white because all of them took at least one photo like this, therefore it inspired me to do it because there seemed to be a set style of photography for this documentary type of topic. To be more specific, Matt Humphreys gave me the idea of taking a photo of someone looking into a mirror because I thought that it was a good and clear way of representing the rehearsals as the mirrors had lights that surrounded them which, stereotypically, theatres should have.

Throughout this project I have learnt that due to me taking photographs of people and what they are doing, I discovered that it is classed as documentary photography. Within this style of photography, I also learnt that the majority of the photos are in black and white because it is an old style of photography, in which they used film to take photos as there were not digital cameras back then. I have also learnt more photography skills and techniques such as depth of field and how it is effective to sometimes use a shallow depth of field which consists of only the subject close up being in focus as it makes you focus on one part of the image.

I enjoyed taking the photos the most during this project. Even though I was hesitant at first to photograph a large group of people rehearsing, once I was comfortable it was quite fun. The reason why I was nervous at the start was because I felt out of place during the rehearsals and felt as if I was going to get in somebody’s way, however, once I found a good spot on stage to take photos, I had no worries. You can probably see the progress I made to becoming more confident because on the first photo shoot I stood on the balcony where the audience usually sits to take all my photos, but on the second photo shoot I went onto the stage to take more photos as I wanted to get different shots for the project.

I have used a range of techniques whilst taking photos during this project because I wanted to get as many different sorts of photos as possible. Firstly, I have used shallow depth of field and large depth of field whilst taking my photos. I have used shallow depth of field because I think it looks more effective when one part of the image is not in focus. By using this technique it allowed me to have an idea for the posters; to put the text on the parts which were not focused so that you could still see the main subject in the photo. I used this when taking more close ups and long shots of people so that only there were in focus, which meant that they were clearly the subject you were meant to be looking at in the photo. I then used a large depth of field when taking photos that I wanted to all be in focus so that you could see everything clearly. I used this when taking photographs of the stage because this meant that you could see everything.

I am pleased with the work I have produced because I managed to improve my skills when using a camera so that when taking photos of the theatre group, I was more confident and was able to take the photos easier. Also, due to the fact that I had never taken photographs of a large group of people before, in my opinion, the outcome was successful. This is because I took hundreds of photos and since there were so many I had quite a few which were what I was hoping for. For example, I had ones that included large and shallow depth of field. I think that the images I took work well with my chosen ritual because they clearly represent pantomimes due to large mixture of photos that I have. Some include people being on stage and some are of people backstage in the dressing rooms and hair and make up rooms. Overall, this has then given me the opportunity to present my ritual in many types of ways.

There are still loads of techniques that I need to learn in the future with my camera and with being able to take photos in the situation that I am in. For example, there are many different settings and modes that I need to learn on my camera which may have benefited me when taking the photos at the theatre. However, for the future, I will try to learn about the camera more so that I am more prepared for when I need to take photographs for the next situation that I am in.

If I were to do the project again, I would possibly go to another local theatre group and take photos of them so that I had more range of people within the promotional material as you see the same people in mine quite a lot. However, if I were to do this, it may not make my promotional material look as good as there would be different surroundings in them which may make them not link as well. I would also maybe try to take photos of the cast during a dress rehearsal or with at least a couple of the cast members putting their costumes on for this project so that I had an even wider range of styles of photographs which would make my promotional material look more exciting and interesting.

Overall, during this project I have learnt many new skills with my camera which has allowed me to go out, confidently, and take photos of a large group of people. It has given me the opportunity to learn about something (pantomimes) that I did not know much about and has made me more aware of how many rituals are involved within one; on stage and backstage.

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