Movie Unit Promotional Stills Photography

Posts tagged “Portraits

Lookin’ Weird

Most of my work is movie-centric, but sometimes I get to annoy people who aren’t actors or cameramen. Below are a collection of funky / mildly disturbing portraits I’ve shot as part of a fashion project my lovely girlfriend is working on where I’ve really been able to have some fun, especially with colouring!

These colourings are done specifically for myself, the actual project itself using a different colour palette. If there’s one thing a really good image should do, it’s ignite the imagination. I hope that’s exactly what these barely human portraits do.

Click any thumbnail to embiggen and if you like what you’ve seen here, say hello to me at marc@marchankins.co.uk and let me know!

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Portfolio! 2015 Edition!

Yup, I’ve taken up the pre-yearly naming scheme of crappy sports games. I’m sure you’ll live.

In a vain attempt to look busier than I am, I’ve decided to sit down, have a look at my portfolio for the thousandth time and decide what to do with my life. This time my mental processes came to the conclusion that I should re-jig my portfolio a little bit and do some winter cleaning.

Have a look! Portfolio! Click it!

If you know me, you’ll know that my portfolio is my greatest enemy. It’s the physical embodiment of my latest, greatest and most beautiful work, however because I’m a stereotypical creative, my huge levels of arrogance are dwarfed only by insufferable levels of insecurity. Even when everything is perfect I’ll still sit and stare at the body of work, treating it like I probably would a tarantula that magically appeared on my desk; paralysed with fear. Fortunately as one gets older, wiser, and uglier more confident, it’s not as hard to decide what works as it used to be.

When I created the 2013 edition of my portfolio, it was a hugely needed overhaul of everything. Today I’m subtly tweaking the core design ethos so that it reflects my own artistic directions. Gone are the thick black borders I used attempt a portrayal of creative authority and the page cluttering production details have been put at the back.

I’ve now opted for “BIGGER PICTURES!”, which rings much better in my head. It still looks cinematic – anamorphic aspect ratios will do that on their own – but it makes a huge difference to raw impact. Pragmatically speaking individual pages will also look much better when they’re scattered around on the internet.

There are a few new additions to the portfolio for the release, however for me it’s also laying the foundations for 2015 when more of 2014’s excellent projects will become public, I want those awesome pictures to stand big and proud for everyone to see!

If you like what you see, let me know! Give me a yell at marc@marchankins.co.uk – especially if you like it enough to hire me, you lovely person you.

Dawson James in "HUD" by Cosmo Leigh

Emma Kenny in "2:AM" by Genesis Flux / Sweet As A Productions


Autumn 2014 Round-up

2:AM Poster

Occasionally an individual photo will be released here and there, but it doesn’t validate a blog post of it’s own. Instead I’ll just quietly add them to the Gallery page. With the release of 2:AM’s key poster today, I figured that it’s a good time to show off  some of what’s been released recently.

2:AM [Link]
2:AM Poster

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HUD

"HUD" by Cosmo Leigh HUD by Cosmo Leigh

 

Like what you see and want me to shoot awesome photos for your film? Email me at marc@marchankins.co.uk and say hello!


A Blimp What Now?

Photographing a film set has both unique opportunities and boundaries. You’re given total freedom, except when you’ve got none at all!

During a take (recording a performance) the stills photographer is quite rightly on bottom on the list of priorities. Any noise or significant movement is an absolutely terrible offence, taking pictures is a very quick way to make enemies on set.

That is, unless you have a camera blimp!

A what now? A flying camera? How does that help in being quiet and unassuming?

Despite it being a staple piece of equipment for an on-set photographer, many people, even filmmakers don’t know what they are. So, in the vain hope of having to explain myself less often in the future, I’m going to show you what I use to stay quiet on set.

No, it’s not a flying camera.

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A blimp is actually a box that’s designed to encase a camera and render it nearly totally silent while taking pictures. This particular one I own is actually a custom-made blimp that I stumbled onto in ebay. It’s a bit ragged from heavy use by it’s previous owner, however I intend to fix it up a bit and give it a sheen of polish.

Made of metal, with a lining of lead and foam, it’s designed to reduce the slapping noise of the mirror and shutters inside the camera. Here, take a listen!

Noisy

Quiet!

For me, the silencing is the least interesting part using this equipment. It does what it says on the tin, makes the camera quiet. Even though you can here it in the video, a shotgun mic turned away will never pick it up over dialogue or environmental noise.

For me, the things worth spending time to think about is how if affects my shooting style and workflow while on set.  There are a lot of small, but important things that will change the way I shoot.

One thing, is that the blimp does not have neck strap loops on it, meaning it can only be handheld. Now I use two cameras on set, because changing lenses is a fantastic way of making sure you miss everything important, a terrible distraction. However that means that at any time there’ll be at least one camera hanging off my body in one way or another.

This now has to change, and now I’m going to be spending time making sure that the blimp is placed somewhere safe when it’s not being used. Film sets are busy, highly dangerous and variable places, even if I plop it between my feet I need to be aware of anyone that might be headed my way in case I need to move it off the ground. The last thing I want is a camera operator or gaffer to trip over my blimp when handling heavy, expensive equipment. A sure fire way of upsetting insurance companies. Additionally, I’ve also had to remove the camera strap from the camera itself to fit it inside the blimp, so even when I’m not using it, I have to worry about a strapless camera.

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Another consideration is that I’m forced to change auto-focusing (AF) habits when using the blimp. By default DSLR’s tie AF to the shutter button, which is fine for casual use, however I deliberately use a custom setting to place AF on a different button, disengaging focusing from shutter release / exposure lock. It gives me extra creative freedoms for little extra complication. With the blimp however, I’m forced to reset that back to the default setting, because only the shutter button is accessible. This means that I must automatically re-focus every time I press the shutter button, a rather frustrating time waster.

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The other minor frustration is the lack of monitor window at the back. To check exposures or focusing of previous images, I need to crack the blimp open. Another time-waster. Fortunately I’m confident enough to not require checking too frequently, however If I have 10 seconds to spare, I’m now far less likely to double check that everything is cool. It’s a bit of a hassle when I’m also tackling a focusing system I haven’t really used in a long time.

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The last issue, is that the blimp is pretty heavy! It easily adds another kilo to an already pretty heavy collection of equipment. This in itself isn’t a huge problem, I could sure do with the exercise. However when you’re outside in a freezing cold winter, or roasting in a small studio that’s filled with cooking hot studio lights, that extra bit of manual labour can seriously detract from my mental sharpness. It means that I’m going to struggle to hold the camera steady for longer, which can be tricky when having to wait for that right moment I need to perfect a picture.

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Fortunately it’s not all negative. Despite all these issues and restrictions, it’s easily worth the ability to take photos during a take. There are many situations that won’t occur when the cameras aren’t rolling. I can take photos of actors giving their best performances with the lighting at it’s most dynamic! It also means that people are less aware of when I’m taking pictures even when we’re not rolling. This helps in reducing self awareness in the subject, and enables me to photograph more naturalistic portraits. Interestingly, when I shoot without a blimp, people tend to block out the incessant clicking, however with one camera in a blimp people will now immediately pick up when I’m using my second camera due to the sudden alien noise in the environment.

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The blimp can also affect the relationship between photographer and subject, especially when the subject is aware of DSLR’s but not blimps. DSLR’s are so common that the cameras themselves carry no sense of authority to the person using them, however I’ve seen that people will pay attention to someone photographing with such a weird piece of equipment. It seems to be that one must know what they’re doing if they’re capable of working with such an odd looking camera!

On the flip side, because it’s so bulky and awkward, it can slow me down, and block my face from the subjects perspective. It makes a physical barrier when I’d rather be spending time communicating face to face with the subject, instead of being a voice behind a black box. If I have time I’d prefer to take the camera out of the blimp to shoot a portrait where I need to communicate with or direct an actor.

So there you go! Camera Blimp! If you found this post interesting and would like to know more, or if you’re suddenly inspired to work with me, fire me an email at marc@marchankins.co.uk – I’d be grateful!

 


Colour Vs. B&W Headshots

Below is an article I wrote up on my Facebook page a few weeks ago, I’ve also included comments offered by some people on the page, an interesting insight as to how the impact of colour can affect photographs in a perceptual and practical way.

The article was whipped up at the time in about 10 minutes and I’ve not edited it since, so I’ve kept it pretty raw. Any opinions on the subject would be fantastic to hear.

Marc.

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I’ve just received an email from Casting Call Pro. They’re asking all of the photographers on the site for their opinion on a possible shift of policy to allow actors to use colour headshots for the first time on the site.

They asked for feedback, and I found it to be a really interesting topic of discussion, so I whipped up a quick reply in 10 minutes and sent it off. I thought I’d post my response on here in hope of hearing thoughts and feeback from the varying casting / actor type people who follow me on here.

Do you support the move into colour headshots?

I support the move into colour with reservations.

I feel that subtle differences in skin tones between people is commonly lost in black and white (due to the nature of what is expected by both actors and casting directors of what is typical) I welcome colour headshots because they do more accurately represent how an actor looks in person.

However I feel that headshots are mainly used to see how an actor looks on camera, to see the shape of their face and how light works with it. With colour I feel that this depth and shape information is lost within the colour details. Unless photos are shot with a highly stringent and rigid formula, I believe that it’s possible for the wrong information to be communicated.

However if the casting directors are comfortable working with colour headshots and know what to expect and what the potential pitfalls are, I am not adverse to shooting in colour.

It could be argued that colour also brings extra scrutiny to the background of the headshot. In black and white the backdrop is rarely significant, so long as it doesn’t blend in with or distract from the actor.

Colour backgrounds provide many more choices and pitfalls. Would a casting director act different with a red or green or blue backdrop compared to a simple white one?

Colour of light also needs to be carefully considered, would light colour be restricted to a neutral white? Or would light of various colours be allowed? (whether or not it’s aesthetically good or bad for the headshot in question)

Colour in general adds alot of character to a shot whether its intentional or not, and it’s my concern that it may be character that has no place in a headshot.

This is all not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a shift of perspective and must be considered.

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Comments

Jenni – an actress

Its hard enough to get a good headshot that accurately represents you, let alone adding in the extra hassle of colour background, colour clothes ect. however a lot of people look very different in b&w and colour shots and if you’re trying to achieve a particular look for a casting more options of which shot to send is beneficial. personally i know i prefer my black and white shots.

Becky – a director

My vote: It is easier to judge on par if all photos are in black and white. They are not going to restrict to just colour therefore some people will stick with B&W and make it very hard to judge all actors on a similar footing. If you look at all casting agencies they use B&W headshots, they could use colour, but they don’t.
Allowing coloured shots (stills) is perfectly fine, but I believe allowing colour headshots will add another complication to casting that is unnecessary.