Thursday, January 26, 2017

Back to the Phillips Door: Why Notes Are Important

My friend Rob Frankenberg, the writer and director of The Phillips Door, called me and said, "We'd doing The Phillips Door again in January. We had two actors who couldn't be in it this time, so we have two new actors in the parts."

I had done the cast character shots for Retro Souls Entertainment and Phantom Theater's The Phillips Door back in December (you can view my blog post on it HERE), so I offered to shoot the new cast members the same as I did the others. That way they'd have shots like the rest of the cast and Retro Souls could use them for promotion. There was a rehearsal scheduled for Dare Studios at the end of the week, so I told him to have the titular Phillips Door and the new cast members in costume there that night. I'd swoop in, take the shots as fast as I could, and get out so they could rehearse.

(photo from the first Phillips Door shoot)

 (Aria Cadenza Moon as The Christmas Fairy and Donna Tamraz O'Rourke as a Fate from last year's December production of The Phillips Door)

Even thought the original shoot had been only last month, I needed to refresh my memory on what I did the first time. That's why I take notes of each assignment. I jot down lighting schematics, equipment, and anything I think is pertinent to the shoot to remember in a notebook. I also had written a blog post about the shoot, which came in handy because I had an image mapping out my exact lighting for those original shots.

Even thought I had notes on what I did before, this was going to be a different location than the last shoot. I was using speedlites and a Alien Bees strobe, but ambient light could bleed in and change the overall look of the photo, enough that it wouldn't match the first set if I wasn't careful.

I had that in mind when I set up at Dare Studios before their rehearsal. Rob had the Phillips Door there, propped up against some amps, so I took a few test snaps and compared the back of my camera to the first set that I had on my phone. The original set was shot with a shutter speed of 1/125 sec., but in this new environment had more light, so I decided to up it to 1/200 sec. to make the shots match.

I shot my friend Nicole Oliva first. Nicole is a gifted actress and singer who was taking over the role of the Christmas Fairy from Aria Cadenza Moon. Nicole thrives in these types of roles, so I know she's going to kill it.

Stacy Fox is a friend I've known for a while, and only recently got to see her strut her stuff on the floorboards. She was taking over as one of the Fates from Donna Tamraz O'Rourke. I can't wait to see what she does next in terms of acting.

The only major difference that bothered me was the door. Right after I did the shoot in December the crew of the show put symbols on the door so it wouldn't be plain. If I wanted to I could have used Photoshop to remove the symbols in white, but that was a lot of work and my turnaround on these photos was needed to be quick so they could use them to promote the show.

The photography lesson here is to take notes of your sessions. Sure, I could have backwards engineered what I did the first time, but it was so much easier, and a heck of a lot quicker, to look back at a page of in a notebook.

The January 27th and 28th performances of The Phillips Door at The
AMVETS Building, 660 Hawkins Avenue in Ronkonkoma, New York are on sale now. Support local theater and check it out.

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