Sunday, September 28, 2008

"The hills are alive..."


Yes, just like any photographer attempting to do a good job, one must spend an ample amount of time with the job to make sure he covers all his shots. Plenty of atmosphere... plenty of wide shots... plenty of tight shots... and plenty of those little obscure shots that defy classification.

Well, in the case of this last job, I spent so much time with it I began to almost feel like I belonged there.

As you might have figured out from the title (unless you thought I was talking about a horror movie), the job was to cover a play - Rogers and Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music".

Spend enough time with musical theater and it is inevitable... you will start to get the songs in your head: only fragments of the songs, of course... so its all the more frustrating.
I saw the entire play from start to finish at least 8 - possibly 9 - times. Or at least the equivalent in additional practices I attended.

Even before the costumes were completed, I was taking photos.

Part of the gig of being in the playbill as "Cast Photographer" includes taking photos for promotional stuff (such as posters and the front of the program) and local papers... as well as the photos of the cast that will appear in the lobby.

In a lighting test outtake, Chris gets comfortable in front of the camera.

But with all the contrived promotional stuff, I still got to do what I like to do best: record some real life stuff. And even though it is "just a play", there are some real-life elements to it.

Kayla and Chris Harper played Maria and the Captain. Yes, they share the same last name... because they're married. And if you don't know the story of "The Sound of Music"... well, too bad, because they end up together in the end.

See? There are cool little stories in the background of just about everything.

Speaking of cool stories, there are even stories with the props seen in this production. For instance, this Flag of the Third Reich:

This is not only a real Nazi flag from World War II, it flew aboard one of the most famous German battleships of all time the Admiral Graf Spee. The Admiral Graf Spee was sunk off the coast of South America in the Battle of the River Plate. After many of its officers and crew hid in South America, a certain officer befriended a local missionary there. As the missionary prepared to come back home some time after the war, the officer gave the missionary the flag that flew aboard the ship... mostly to get rid of any more evidence that he was connected to the Nazi's to avoid being found by the war-crimes tribunals that were searching for the rest of the crew in South America.

That missionary brought the flag back to America. Almost half a century later, here it is: the flag of the Admiral Graf Spee.

It doesn't get much more authentic than that, my friend.

There is no end to the little interpersonal details that begin to emerge from hanging around and photographing a huge and diverse cast like the one that appeared in this big production.

And you must put in the time. Sure, you can sit and get snapshots of the performance, but that's the view everyone sees! What is unique about that!?

Even the soccer mom with a digicam can get a shot from the audience - she just has to buy a ticket.

It is the week before where I prefer to be...

...when the bugs are still being worked out of the sound and lighting systems.

The cast was rather large - like 50 nuns or something...

A stage manager acts as a nun herder as they wait for their cue.

And not only nuns, but there are dozens of lead rolls, too!

I love pictures that are able to convey some sort of story:

I wonder if it is hot in the nun's costumes in August?

I think that answers it.

Because someone once said something about the world being a stage and all of us are the players... and my job is to document it.

And though we may not have any catchy music to get stuck on our brains...

...nor do we have any wireless microphones need their batteries changed during early practices... grand endings riding off into the sunset...

...or the mountains.

But it is sometimes fun to just suspend belief. Yeah, its a play, but there's real stuff going on behind the scenes. That's where I want to be.

And when it was all over, it was so fascinating: I had spent so much time with the cast and crew that it was hard not to feel a little sad for them singing "So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye" the last time and see the tears filling the eyes of the cast members. That wasn't acting... that's the real thing.

And the final bow...

They put quite a lot of their summer into this play. They did a spectacular job. I have seen quite a few plays from Broadway and the Fox Theatre and the Orpheum... and it was hard to believe these people weren't at all professional.

Anyways, so that explains my absence as of late.

I'm also back to working on editing photos from my 4 months overseas.

Why? you may ask...'ll see!


Stay tuned,
~Noah D.

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