Abbey Road Studios, London UK
Time / Date:
6:34 AM / April 17, 2008
Camera: Canon 5d Mk2
Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS
Shutter Speed: 1/64 sec
Focal Length: 50mm
The whole shoot was set for a 2 day, strictly reportage session at the famed Abbey Road studios in north west London. The band were recording a special live session of their album ‘The Circus’. I’d documented them in the studio on and off of the actual recording of the album so I was pleased to be asked to continue the work.
I had to shoot around the video and lighting crew so I had to work out my angles carefully. A lot of what can be shot has to be in between takes as I didn’t have a sound proof casing for my camera. But it did mean that my attention was to the in-between moments which always make for the better shots. On a video shoot or a film set the photography is seen as just something that gets in the way of the real work. Of course we all know better and as long as you’re given time you can always get a great result. The band were very keen to show off their talents as musicians after years of being considered merely a very talented boyband. Backing singers they are not, these boys can really play.
I had a fairly light bag this time. I was shooting on my Canon 5d Mk2 and 5d Mk1 using my Canon 24-105mm f/4, Canon 70-200mm f/4, Canon 35mm f/1.4 and Canon 50mm f/1.4. I know some people hate on zooms and yes mine are only f/4 but they’ve very rarely let me down so far. I enjoy their flexibility but I do love the prime 35mm f1.4.
Making the Shot:
I was charged with capturing the intimacy of the music and a more grown up band. I made sure to focus on each individual member going about their preparations for performance. We had plenty of lighting setup time to wait through. I saw this as my moment to shoot what I could. In this instance Gary Barlow was at his piano lost in the moment preparing for the show. There was a whole room of bustling going on around him but I managed to find a good angle and kept shooting. I love delivering shots that no-one saw me shoot. If I can remain anonymous to the crew and keep a very low profile I feel like I’m doing my job right.
Editing & Processing:
I used Capture One Pro to process this job purely because it was the best for me at the time. I had enough time to download and browse my pictures for speed to not be a problem. I’ve only recently converted most of my processing to Lightroom 4 and I know I’d definitely approach the processing differently now if I were to do it today. Though I’m not sure I would be able to achieve as crisp a result as this. Not because of any fault in Lightroom but more because you can do so much more with the program. It’s good to know all the tools at your disposal so you can make a conscious decision on what to use.
Once I’ve finished my edit I usually resort to a Adobe web gallery to deliver my work. I’ve found delivering disks very time consuming and the web galleries are are great way of quickly getting images to clients and for you to retain some control over the hi-res ordering process. I did think about cleaning up the background and somehow editing the crew out of the shadows but I like seeing them there.
If I were to offer any advice to photographers working on film sets it would be pick your timing carefully. Think about your angles and anticipate your moment. It’s sometimes over in a flash and you may only get a single frame. Just make sure you get it! Oh and get to be friends with the 1st AD. They run the whole show and will have some harsh words for you should you ever step over the line.
About the Photographer
Andrew Whitton is a portrait photographer working in the UK who specializes in the entertainment industry. Whether working with internationally renowned bands in the studio or traveling the world as a concert photographer, Andrew is awesome.
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