Seeking shooting tips for the theater environment

Started Mar 16, 2014 | Discussions thread
Mel Snyder
Mel Snyder Veteran Member • Posts: 4,088
Tips from someone who's shot them for years (daughter into theatre/musicals!)

Here, "Babe" in "Pajama Game"

Thanks to the good fortune of have a talented daughter who was deeply into both dramatic theatre and musicals - so I had years of experience shooting her and her friends with gear a lot more primitive than the NEX series - a Nikon D70 - marginally compensated for with a very good Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 AF-D lens.

If you go to you can see the EXIF of all kinds of scenes and lighting. The D70 max'd out at IS0 800 - you could easily go to 1600 or higher with the NEX and the 55-210.

If you go to you can see the EXIF for each image, and get an idea of what you need.

But before I had the D70 and 80-200, I was shooting with a Sony DSC-F717, and got good images with that small-sensor camera:

Obviously, the available light makes a lot of difference. Make friends with the lighting director - among amateurs, there is often a penchant for dark lighting - talk to the show director and make sure it's as high as it can go.

I used a monopod - it allows you a great deal more flexibility in moving around the theater. If you can see a rehearsal, study where you have to move to get the right shots for each scene. Mix up long and tight shots. Do NOT waste time changing lenses - keep the 55-210 on except maybe for the curtain call - but even then, just back up till you can fill the frame with the stage, then click-click-click tight shots of everyone, so you are sure to include all actors in your final gallery.

Post the images where cast and family can download them, or you will be driven crazy for years after the show.

My daughter starred in one emotional production - "Our Town" - and produced Lillian Helman's controversial 1934 play "Children's Hour" (teacher in a boarding school falsely accused by girls as having a lesbian relationship with another teacher. commits suicide when parents pull girls out) - know the playbook well enough to know when to turn you camera on the audience to capture their response.

 Mel Snyder's gear list:Mel Snyder's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony Alpha a7 Sony E 16mm F2.8 Pancake Leica Summicron-M 50mm f/2 Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS +12 more
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