As today is National Poetry Day, I’m just gonna leave this here…
Last week I had the pleasure of photographing Andrew “Mulletproof Poet” Graves’ one man show, “God Save The Teen”, in Leicester’s pub theatre, Upstairs At The Western.
I’ve photographed Andrew before, both onstage at the Y in Leicester, as part of Word! and in the studio. But Upstairs… is different for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, as with any stage, I don’t get to control the lighting, so I pretty much get what I’m given* The stage Upstairs is tiny, (my studio is bigger) It’s black, it has few lights, and that makes it hard to work in.
Knowing all of this, I took a Ranger Quadra with a gridded reflector, with the intention of skim-lighting or back-lighting Andrew, to add a bit of modelling to what would otherwise be very flat frontal or hard overhead lighting. I also knew that, uncorrected, the different colours of the tungsten spotlights and the flash meant that I could alter the balance between them to some extent in post-processing using colour channels, given that I intend to process the pictures out as black and white.
To my surprise, I found that I also had a reasonable chance of making something interesting in a colour photograph too.
Anyway, Andrew is a performer. He feels the emotion of his words and speaks from the heart. Unlike another of my recent sitters, Rob Gee who I also recently photographed at The Western, he doesn’t bounce about quite so much, so he was easier to light with a 30 degree grid from the back of the stage.
The Ranger Quadra performed admirably in this situation; on a Manfrotto Nano Stand, it was unobtrusive enough to not be a hazard in a cramped environment (it was parked in the doorway between the sound and lighting booth and the stage for an hour, and nobody tripped over it or swore at me) and powerful enough to fire a couple of times a second, again and again, and balance with the stage spotlights. Doing this with a Speedlight would have been a very different proposition indeed.
Afterwards, I bought a pint, stayed for the show and was able to quickly process out and tweet a couple of pictures from the final rehearsal.
The show, about growing up in a crap town with few prospects in 1980s Britain, is an emotional trip down memory lane for anyone in their 40s who grew up here. You often see reviews of shows advertising that “You’ll laugh and cry…” Well, I have no problem admitting it. I did. Both.
Truly worthy of your attention. ladies and gentleman, I give you The Mulletproof Poet!
*I cheated. It’s the only way.