The Crown – trailer

Mobile Mad

I am a great advocate of the digital revolution. I have benefitted hugely from Personal Computers, mobile phones and of course digital capture. Although I do have to wonder if the general addiction that a lot of people have to spending a debatably disproportionate amount of time staring longingly into a mobile device is benefitting our creative endeavours! I tend to believe that the sharing of ideas be personal / verbal communication is one of the most stimulating and exciting ways of brainstorming and developing new ideas and concepts. Today I stood in a room between takes on a film set while 15 plus ‘creative’ people gazed into their mobile phones, nobody spoke, nobody shared ideas nobody engaged at all just coasted through the jetsam and flotsam of apps and so called social media or would it be better described as un-social media?? As because of it we are losing the ability to communicate directly with one another. Great ideas and inventions and I believe true creativity are bought about by individuals communicating energetically with one and other, reading each other’s body language and developing individual and creative ideas. Go on put down your phone and talk to the person next to you. You never Know you might like, learn, invent, develop or just see the world around you for yourself!

A million photos and counting…..

I must have shot a million photos and counting…. We recent;y moved house and studio and office… I say recently well nearly 2 years ago actually… And I am still sorting and tidying and finding homes for the mountain of photography related Jetsam and flotsam. Photography by its very nature seems to accumulate clutter. I still have my first portfolio that I submitted for my City and Guilds some thirty years ago. The handles on the case have gone rusty, In fact I still have the negs as well. And then the mountain of portfolios that came after that, plus darkroom equipment, enlarger easels, darkrooms sinks, lighting gear, endless boxes of filters 3 x light boxes, a light table lighting rigs and lights stands tripods x ??? !!! how many, on and on and on it goes so much gear. I have now I confess sold all my analogue kit or at least those items that still had some value, other than my  X pan believing that one day I might need it for the anamorphic format. Oh yes then there is the mountain of old prints and photo DVDs. But please don’t think the digital era of photography is streamlined or clutter free as I notice the ever increasing pile of Hard drives that is developing in the corner of my office. I have no particular conclussion as to what to do other than utter a sigh of relief that it all pretty much sorted out now …… and wonder if other photographers suffer from the same scenario???

You don’t take a photo you make it – Ansel Adams

But is that not in direction contradiction to Cartier-Bresson with his decisive moment theory or is it more like an attitude? To image making – capturing moments! The reality for some one like me is that it it’s a bit of both that makes up my working practise. Sure I can consider, construct and so to speak make images, but, a substantial part of my image making is made up of capturing moments, the ability to see and anticipate a defining moment, those fleeting instances that require a sixth sense not least with ones equipment to be in the right place at the right time with the right lens.

Sharing a few insights with Andre of New York

Hi Alex,

thanks for getting back to me. I am a graduate student at School of Visual Arts in New York as I mentioned. I am currently working on films and also building a portfolio in advertising portraiture. I have been employed in the past by independent (non union) productions to photograph behind the scenes and specials. I’ve been following your work for a few years now and have been inspired by your images and hope to continue my work upon graduating.

I am curious to know more about the creative process and standard business practices surrounding the creation of movie posters and still photographs for film marketing. I listed a few questions below. Thank you for taking the time to answer them for me.

Do most unit photographers belong to a Camera Guild and if so, what is the route to become a member as a unit photographer?
Actually there is no union here in the UK or association which is a shame. There is no association or any kind of formal contact between photographers operating in this rewarding area of photography. I believe there is something more structured in the USA. But I no Nothing about it. I understand there is quite an active group on Facebook? Hence the reason I run an active blog and wrote Movie Photos .. to put some info out there.

I know there are a few agencies that represent unit photographers in the industry. Do agents usually seek photographers who have some credits?
I am aware of only one agency based in LA I think? I deal direct with clients so I can not advise you on the ins and outs of agencies.

As for creative issues, I sometimes color grade my images before handing them to the producer. I will ask the camera crew about color temperature and focal length from time to time. But I was curious to know if you have conversations with cinematographers or the camera crew before starting an assignment and what that would entail.
Generally I do have technical chats with the DOP and camera guys most days about many different technical issues, ideas, concepts and equipment. We are all interested in what we do so talking gear and technique is always on the agenda. The specifics of grading is something I can confirm be looking at the DOP’s graded DIT monitor or if on film by seeing rushes. But lets not get to hung up on the technical. Content…. content…. content…. What do want most? Sharp well exposed GREAT images that engage the viewer and SELL the movie….

Do publicists request you shoot video as well?
NO. My view is I do not offer..BUT. There are days when shooting some clips is more benficial to the marketing machine than stills. Or more like at times during such days. Clips would be more beneficial. Stunt work with actors doubles for example.

Is it common practice to hand over RAW files them after the shoot?
if they buy out the images they would be the ones responsible for having them processed and graded.

Also, what was your most memorable experience while working in the industry?
Oh ….Andre 25 years in the industry 65+ movies many, many great memories (and a few more to come yet!) … Flying onto a live volcano in a helicopter with Angelina Jolie that was pretty special… But to be honest I have been to so many beautiful and totally interesting places courtesy of the film biz its very hard to single out single events. I still love just being outdoors in the UK on a lovely day with white clouds a blue sky and some beautiful low light and an interesting subject to photographically explore……

Thank you again Alex. I look forward to hearing from you.

Looking forward to more books!

Far From The Madding Crowd – PHOTO RELEASE

Photo: Alex Bailey

After landing on cinephile radars with 1998’s “The Celebration,” Thomas Vinterberg went on a weird and wild cinematic journey. From pictures that didn’t or barely got a release stateside, to disappointments like “Dear Wendy” or “It’s All About Love,” Vinterberg failed to match the acclaim of his Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize-winning film. That’s until this year’s “The Hunt,” the gripping tale of community persecution that earned rave reviews, and more Cannes awards (an Ecumenical Jury Prize for Vinterberg, a Best Actor trophy for Mads Mikkelsen). And the helmer isn’t wasting a moment riding that momentum.

Last month production started on his star studded adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s “Far From The Madding Crowd,” and today Empire brings us the official first images from the movie, and yes, we will buy all the tickets. Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Juno Temple, Michael Sheen and Tom Sturridge, the movie tells the tale of Bathsheba Everdene (Mulligan) who is courted by three men: Gabriel Oak (Schoenaerts), a shepherd; Sergeant Troy (Sturridge), a handsome soldier; and William Boldwood (Sheen), a farm owner. Naturally, there are heartbreaks and feelings and stuff.

No release dates yet, but we’d put good money on this being in competition at Cannes in the spring.

Photos: Alex Bailey

Adapt or Die

 So… The evolution of our art form continues … I admit it… It finally happened I am shooting Video clips on set with my DSLR.  I just could not resist it any more. It seems to me to be the obvious thing to do.

When I started in photography it was on  B+W film and wet processing then we took on color then we digitized the film and moved onto dedicated digital cameras and now we will… shoot video clips as well. How exciting!!! I have stood next to filmmakers for 20 plus years so I have learnt a thing or two about how to shoot moving footage…. to say the least!!! The printed word is dying we all know that? Or at least it’s certainly under an immense threat! One thing for sure is that a huge amount of people – the Majority? – Get their information from mobile digital devices and that includes images in the form of stills and moving footage and we as image makers should include sequential imagery as part of our brief. I embrace the progress. It is exciting… another set of skills to be challenged by and learn – besides who wants to stand still in this world? In my industry–the film biz- the future for photographers/image makers is the ability to shoot quintessential still images AND quality informative footage. Remember this day the 11th August 2013 the day you heard that photographers on film and TV sets became know as Photographers and Behind The Scenes Clipmakers – all one word!  – Like the word Filmmakers. Unless of course you heard it before or are already doing it.  Of course there are going to be those that are skeptical and find reasons not to shoot clips or look for problems before you get started – well that’s up to you – if you want my advise: Adapt or Die… In an ever competitive world mark my words its happening…. its already started… Im doing it and no doubt so are a few others or they soon will be – enjoy the challenge and reach for those manuals!!!