Naatak’s newest and largest production, Toba Tek Singh, will open on July 9 and run through July 29, 2017. This grand musical will treat the serious topic of the forced Indian/Pakistani separation of 1948 in a lighthearted manner, by examining the issue from the perspective of a lunatic asylum. If you live in or will be visiting the San Francisco Bay Area during this show’s run, I highly recommend your attending a performance. I will be shooting the tech rehearsal and the opening night, and I will post some images then. For more information or to order tickets, visit: Naatak Toba Tek Singh.
In the meantime, please read on to see some images of NAATAK’s last production along with my tips on how to make images of live theater.
Recently I had the privilege of shooting the tech rehearsal for Naatak’s production, “Airport Insecurity.” This is a vibrant and engaging show that is also very timely given what’s been going on in the news lately regarding immigration and several nations’ misguided attempts to secure their borders. Naatak is America’s largest Indian theater company and I’ve been a fan for many years. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, do try to catch a performance of the show, which runs through March 4 at Cubberley Theatre in Palo Alto. You can learn more at Naatak’s website: Naatak “Airport Insecurity”.
Today’s post shares some of my favorite images from the tech rehearsal, including some behind-the-scenes shots of the actors preparing and the crew finishing the sets. Although the play is based on a true story about an Indian-American techie stranded in a German airport, I will refrain from providing commentary on the action in each image, so as not to spoil the narrative. I will, however, provide a few technical tips regarding how the images were made.
Often the most compelling images of a theater production are not the ones made on-stage. I always try to capture the backstory and behind-the-scenes activities, like this impromptu moment during make-up. Buy this photo
It would be distracting and even potentially dangerous to use flash when construction is under way, so I used a fast prime lens and a high ISO setting to capture this image using available light. Buy this photo
When possible, such as during a tech or dress rehearsal, I like to get down onto the floor of the stage to capture the action from a unique viewpoint. Buy this photo
Sometimes a medium telephoto lens provides just the right perspective, in this case intimate without being intrusive. Buy this photo
Careful attention to timing and to composition can elevate still images of theater. Buy this photo
To capture this emotion-packed scene, I got in close using a medium telephoto lens and shot from the perspective of someone witnessing the interaction in the same room. Buy this photo
I’ve said it before and will doubtless say it again: Shoot plenty of images in a continuous sequence to increase the odds of capturing just the right moment. Buy this photo
To portray the couple’s sadness over their physical separation, I shot from the apron of the stage near the husband and chose a wide aperture so as to render the far-away wife in soft focus. Buy this photo
A moment of celebration captured using a fast shutter speed. To execute images with fast shutter speeds using available light only, I needed to use a fast lens nearly wide-open and a high ISO setting. Buy this photo
The play’s final scene provides a sense of closure, so I wanted the image to be warm and reassuring. The most pleasing perspective when making full-body images is frequently obtained by shooting parallel to the middle of the subject’s body. Buy this photo
Curtain call! I don’t like the distortion introduced when shooting a cast with a wide-angle lens, so to fit the entire cast in the frame using a normal lens, I moved to the back of the auditorium. Buy this photo
How do you translate dramatic performances into still images? Please share your thoughts here.
Want to read more posts about what to shoot while traveling and near home? Find them all here: Posts on What to Shoot.