When people ask me what is it that I love about my work, my usual reply is that no two days are ever the same. It is such a blessing to be a part of a film or TV crew. It is a greater blessing to be a part of a crew with a camera and an "all-access" pass! Having a camera with you is a great way of documenting your journey and I always have one (or two or three) with me. Not only does it allow me to remember where all I have been but it also helps me to connect with people and places that I otherwise would not. It also allows me to see what I otherwise would not.
Of course, it all starts with going to different locations as a part of location scouting. Whether you end up shooting there or not is another thing altogether. For those of you who are interested, I usually mount an all purpose lens on my camera, mostly the Nikon 28-300 lens and my Nikon 50mm stays in my bag too, just in case I need to take some low light shots of locations at night. During this time my mind is working more like a director rather than a photographer and the pictures taken here have a very definite purpose - that of being able to recall what is seen from each angle so that I can share it with my team. These photographs are so important that quite a few times I have been hired by foreign productions to scout locations for them and take pictures but if during the process a beautiful photograph crops up - I don't let it go!
One thing that I do quite often is to actually "block" a shot and take a photograph to see if it works the way I see it in my head. This way I have something to show my cameraman as a reference and there is nothing worse than having an army of people walk into a location, setup a shot and realise that it does not work.
When I am not directing is usually when the photographer in me awakens but I have to be careful not to get in the way of actual shooting. I also have to judge if people around me are uncomfortable having a camera in close proximity and going "click-click" when they are trying to concentrate. To shoot the candids, there is usually a time window of a few seconds between the time the director shouts "roll camera" and says "action". After the shot starts, you really don't want to be shooting because it breaks everyone's concentration and there is also the technical issue of the shutter sound being captured by the microphones and ruining the shot. That having been said, I like to go in really close to the people who are comfortable with it. I mostly use a Nikon 17-35mm for this purpose.
In between the shots is the time when it is free for all. Lights being moved, props being shifted, refreshments being served and everyone just concentrating on setting up the next shot. Nobody notices the photographer and depending upon how well you camouflage yourself, you can get pretty close to the hotbed of action. I have a set of clothes made of cardboard for this purpose and just pretend to be a cardboard box at times like these! Sometimes I also disguise myself as a table.
If you look away from the actors and director, there are plenty of other images that can be shot which complete the overall experience of being a part of a shooting crew. It really is amazing to see so many different people contributing to create the environment and the shot and this is where the true magic (for me) lies. So many people from different walks of life, with different skills contribute to that one vision that someone has - and that is what we see on screen.
When there is too much activity on the set and you are apprehensive that you might land yourself in trouble is when the big zooms come out. Sit quietly in a corner and just observe and wait!!! All pictures below shot with the Nikon 70-200.
And of course, if you are very lucky, once in a while, you will spot a photograph that will remind you that in spite of all the madness, the joy and the celebration - we are all human. We dance, we laugh, we cry for the sake of entertainment and somewhere our troubles are forgotten - if only fleetingly.
That's all for now. Hope you enjoyed these photographs. Until next time...