Stills from Summer Coda - Rachel Taylor
I was fortunate to work as a stills photographer on the Australian motion picture film Summer Coda. Shot predominantly in and around Mildura, in north west Victoria, during December 2009 the film has just been released. This site features numerous posts from the film illustrated with images of the crew and the local landscape. I had an agreement with the film's director, Richard Gray, that I wouldn't post any images of the actors until the film's Australian release. Now that date has arrived I'm happy to share the pictures with you, to both promote the film and, in line with the intent of this site, to share the beauty of our world and its people to an ever-wider audience.
The images in this article feature Rachel Taylor who's character (Heidi) and journey (both physical and emotional) the film is based upon.
This is the first time I'd worked with Rachel. The film was made with a very small budget and under very difficult conditions. I was extremely impressed with the way actors and crew alike met these challenges. Some challenges were faced by all and, in addition, others had their own, unique problems with which to deal. But the film continued and it's a credit to the professionalism of all involved that the work came first and, as a result, the finished product shines. For Australian readers I hope as many of you will make the effort to see the film over the next week. I'm sure you'll find it to be an enjoyable and uplifting experience.
I found Rachel to be a generous and engaging person aware of the needs of the stills photographer. As well as being required to make numerous stills during or immediately after the filming of certain scenes, the stills photographer may also be charged with the role of recording a range of candid moments, of actors and crew alike, on and around set. This was particularly important to the director, so I did my very best to make a series of images that helped tell the story of the making of Summer Coda.
There are some actors, with whom I've worked in the past, who simply do not want to be photographed off set. There are numerous reasons why this is important to them. Image is important to all actors and it's not unreasonable that they would want to try and protect their image by controlling what and when they are photographed. Off set, as public figures, this is clearly hard to achieve. The dreaded and vile paparazzi make sure of that. On set I have to balance the views of actor with the needs of my employer. Off camera and around the set I wouldn't dream of photographing anyone who doesn't want to be photographed. I simply make the point that, as I'm only interested in making positive, life-affirming images, that it's their loss as much as mine. If I can't photograph them then they will be missing from the body of work I produce which tells the story of the making of the film. Personally I think that's tragic but, whether I agree with their rational or not, I absolutely respect their decision.
In Rachel's case I had no such problem. Due to her very hectic schedule on set there really was little time to photographer her off set, other than during meal breaks or during wardrobe changes. I do my best to keep clear of actors during those time, assuming they need space and quiet between scenes. Of course it's always a good feeling when you get a chance to sit and chat with any member of the team, cast or crew.
I'm not what you would call a candid photographer, preferring to work in an interactive way with my subject. However, the nature of this project required the capturing of certain candid moments. Right from the beginning Rachel seemed fine with this. I'm not the type to hide in the bushes with a big telephoto zoom lens. Rather I'd stand back, out of the way and, when an opportunity arises for a candid moment (laughter, banter, interaction with director, etc) I'II make the shot. But only if it's likely to be a good one. I really have no interest in rendering anyone in a demeaning manner, unless they choose to ham it up for the camera. And even then I'd be careful who sees such images.
As I said, right from the get go, Rachel was fine with this type of candid work. I was aware, right from the first time, that she'd wait until I'd released the shutter until she moved. She even sent the faintest type of wink towards me as if to say, "no worries, hope you got a good one". I'II never forget that, particularly after arriving for my first day on set, some way into the project, into a 47C heatwave.
Of course any opportunities to photograph Rachel were a real highlight for me. She has an enchanting smile and amazing skin. Photography is largely about light and Rachel and light have an incredible relationship. Rather than light reflecting off her skin, it appears to radiate outwards. This luminous quality is what I try to achieve in all my photography. With Rachel its just there and, as such, it's a joy to photographer her.
Check back again over coming days for more images from Summer Coda.
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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru