“The Importance of Being Earnest”

Pre-publicity shoot at The Rose Theatre in Kingston for Stephen Unwins’ new production of The Importance of Being Earnest, starring Jane Asher.

Objective: To create an eye-catching image of Jane’s potrayal of the indomitable Lady Bracknell, that brings out the full depth of the character.

Equipment: 8′ x 6′ Lastolite Hi-Lite 4x BX500 Ri Elinchrom heads Soft boxes Nikon D700 NK Remote software from Breeze Systems

Jane is a very beautiful woman but she is now in her sixties, so soft frontal lighting was the order of the day. In view of the overhang of the hat I also chose to light from a much lower angle than I would normally, which was also more flattering to her skin tones. At this early stage Jane did not know the script,so we had to dispense with the usual run through of lines and concentrate on delivering the expression we wanted by reaction alone. After a few attempts at working full length I moved in closer, which greatly increased the eye contact between us. We tried various angles, but settled on Jane starting with her back to me, then turning suddenly to camera to introduce some spontaneous action. Shooting tethered allowed the marketing and styling team to watch the results on a screen behind me and it very soon became clear we were getting the results we wanted. We shot 130 frames which were wittled down to a selection of five before the final choice was made. The RAW file required very little work beyond a slight level and curve adjustment and a small amount of highlight recovery for the fine detail on the collar lace. The final image and the finished poster are shown below.


Bringing the Rose to life

As the Rose Theatre in Kingston is now just over two years old, I thought it would be interesting to go back and see how things looked when we were first commissioned to photograph the main auditorium in August 2006. Channel 4 had been due to come in and film, but the director had taken one look at the dark concrete shell (lit only by four 60 watt bulbs) and said it was far too much work to light for TV ! Undaunted, Karen and I turned up a week later with a car load of lighting and several hundred feet of cable and set to work. It took three hours to place and set all the light heads before we discovered that each time they were triggered they tripped what turned out to be a very rudimentary electric circuit. Undaunted we made a few subtle modifications to the electrics and finally managed to get all ten flash heads firing at once without setting the building’s alarms off !

In September 2007 we returned to photograph the installation of the supporting metalwork frame for the (unique) lozenge-shaped stage.

In December 2007 we finally captured the heart of the Rose as it blossomed to it’s full glory. It’s an inspiring, yet surprisingly intimate, 900 seat space that has given the South a brilliant new theatre, and as house photographer I’m fortunate to visit the Rose regularly to shoot both publicity and production images.
It continues to grow and flourish, drawing some of the country’s finest directors and actors to it’s unique charms . .

To discover more about the Rose visit http://www.rosetheatrekingston.org/