Tech Talk – Stills Photographers, far more useful than you’d think!

As a photographer on a film set, you’ll often find more demand for your skills than you’d have expected. Having a professional stills photographer shooting for the production can be useful in ways you’d probably not even imagined. Here’s some other uses for our work:

A nice day for a staged wedding

  • Reference for crew – visit the offices of various crew (like editors, publicists, casting and even locations) and you’ll often see a series of head shots pinned up on the wall. These photos will usually show the actor’s real name and character name as a quick visual reference so that when either name is mentioned in a discussion a name and a face can be quickly paired up.
  • Art Department – will have a myriad of uses for stills. I’ve photographed a mock wedding as well as plenty of friends/family snapshots to dress sets. Quite recently I was asked to shoot police style surveillance photos of key cast
  • Visual Effects (VFX) – can never do with enough images that reference how things looked on set. VFX photography is quite specialised work but good strong behind the scenes and also colour balanced stills of sets and actors that will require CGI effects will be greatly useful to the artists in VFX houses.
  • Hair/Make up and Costume Continuity – will regularly shoot their own continuity stills but sometimes, they’ll need a more specialist touch with reference images. I’ve found this particularly useful when a new artist will be on set for a day or to take over the show and there won’t be a formal handover to the incoming artist. High quality reference images from the stills photographer can make the task of the new artist much easier.
  • Continuity – usually the script supervisor will have more that enough coverage in their own notes and reference stills. However, a stills photographer will often be called upon to double check.
  • Pre-checks for Heads of Department – On larger shoots what’s happening on the set is just the tip of a very large iceberg. During set-up of shots Directors and other decision makers will often be asked for opinions on works in progress for later filming. When time permits often the stills photographer will be asked to shoot these images so that the decision makers are seeing the work in the best possible light.

As you can see there’s no shortage for a need for stills on a film shoot. By being approachable enough to assist other crew when photography skills are needed you’ll prove your worth time and time again.

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