A masterclass in photo technique

A Christmas present I received from my wife was a delightful surprise: a DVD of the film ‘The King’s Speech’. But the ‘bonus’ section was a long interview with director Tom Hooper which, for much of the time, was a real masterclass in using the photographic frame, various wide-angle lenses, and backgrounds, to convey personality, emotion, relationships and much more. This was, of course, related to moving pictures but is equally relevant to still photography, especially but not exclusively of people. I shall be studying it again and again.

Using a wide-angle closeup to make the microphone dominate; this is a technique which will be already familiar to many photographers

Using a wide-angle closeup to make the microphone dominate; this is a technique which will be already familiar to many photographers. There are many examples, some more powerful than this, in the film

Much of what Tom Hooper said brought to mind pictures from the blog ‘Broken Light‘, which has impressed me a lot as people suffering from clinical depression and other mental illnesses try to express their isolation and frustration through photography.

Many sequences are shot on this sofa, against the 'found' deteriorated wallpaper background

Many sequences are shot on this sofa, against the ‘found’ deteriorated wallpaper background

The isolation of the man, and his mental fears and confusion, are often conveyed by his isolation in the frame and the strangely destroyed background

The isolation of the man, and his mental fears and confusion, are often conveyed by his isolation in the frame and the strangely destroyed background

I have wanted to watch ‘The King’s Speech’ since it first appeared but will no longer go to the cinema. The last time I went to the cinema not only was it a disappointment to a former avid cinema goer, it was an extremely unpleasant experience. Films are now made for the small screen and framed for it; on the big screen it’s like watching tennis from the side line centre. And the volume of sound … absolutely ridiculous and painful. However, had I seen the film in the cinema I would never have received the DVD. But I digress.

Street photography and portraiture

I have commented before on this blog that I have an ambition to try my hand at so-called ‘street photography’. In fact I’ve attempted a little over the Christmas period but have yet to develop, in fact to finish, the film. I’ve also been contemplating an attempt at portraiture, for which I was leaning towards the square 6×6 format, which with rare exceptions is not otherwise my favourite. However, Tom Hooper’s commentary has changed my ideas on that so if I do have a go at portraiture it will be on 6×9 (ie the bigger version of the 35mm frame).

If you have already seen the film, then go ahead and get a copy of the commentary. If you haven’t yet seen the film be sure to watch it first. I guess many of us ‘photographers’ always watch a film being diverted from the story line and acting by photographic technique, but that will certainly happen if you’ve watched the director’s commentary before ‘The King’s Speech’ itself. This would be a pity as this is a really great story conveyed with superb acting, quite apart from the mastery of photography (photography on film, of course).

Tom Hooper uses quite a lot of movie techno-speak which I will have to look up during my next viewing to understand completely what he is saying, but I have no doubt that this ‘bonus’ on my Christmas present is going to change some of my approaches to photography in a big way.

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