A unit still photographer, or simply still photographer, is a person who creates still photographic images specifically intended for use in the marketing and publicity of feature films in the motion picture industry and network television productions.
I recently had the opportunity to work with director Victor Picena, of The Picena Company – USA, on a western short film called “Vengeance”. I was able to witness the dedication, and great skills of an awesome cast and crew. Seeing the project come to life, and being able to experience and capture the work in action was very rewarding.
Film photography is a special kind of division. Everything is set for you: lighting, reflectors, costumes, hair and makeup; You get to play paparazzi and capture the cast and crew in their many characters; You’re allowed to position yourself as close to the film camera as possible, and shoot every scene in detail.
There are also many technical aspects that you learn as you work.
Here’s a list of things that are important to know if you’re interested in becoming a still photographer on a film set:
- Learn on set terminology – this will help you have a notion of what’s going on on set, and will help you refrain from getting in the way of the production crew.
- Be prepared with your equipment – I had a walk-thru of the set with the director. This helped me to know the environment I would be working in, and I was able to prepare from what particular bag I would use to carry my equipment in, to what equipment I would take – here’s a link to the backpack I used. It’s durable, water resistant, light weight, and very useful: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00UMWMLV2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
- Don’t rely on just one lens – I used three: Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM, EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, and Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM.
Other things to consider if you want to embark on this adventure:
- Are you a people person? As all photographers, you are required to have a great attitude. However, consider the amount of hours that you, and the cast and crew will be onset; You will witness various moods and characters, and will always have to approach peers a polite and friendly demeanor.
- Have a good sense of visual composition and perspective
- Have sensitivity and tact when working with actors
- Be able to cope with the rejection of images – you must be prepared for the rejection of what you may think is your best work.
- Pay close attention to detail
- Possess good organizational skills
- Be able to work quickly under pressure
- Have excellent communication skills
- Gain knowledge of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures
I hope this list was a bit useful to you.
I’ve included some of the shots I took on the set of “Vengeance” – hope you enjoy them as much as I did capturing them.
To learn more about “Vengeance” follow:
Click on the image to view full size