Daryll Morgan Photography

The Drama of Shooting Live Theatre πŸ“·

August 30, 2017

Ah, the theatre. One of mankind's most prolific forms of entertainment for over 2500 years. PopularizedΒ by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and made mainstream by the iconic William Shakespeare, theatre has been a part of human culture as much as war and disease. And much like war and disease, it shows no signs of stopping.Β 

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My interest in stage photography began my freshman year of college, back when I was first getting into photography. For me, it was simply an accessible photo subject. I would often take photos at my school's weekly improv get-together, The No Shame Variety Show.Β Eventually, I'd gain aΒ love for the theatre in general, and these late night forays would continue toΒ nurture my photographic aspirations.Β 

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Eventually, I wanted to photograph something bigger than an improv show, so I decided to take my camera to a local theatre house for a stage production. I had gotten permission beforehand to photograph the show from the back of the room. This doesn't happen often, so I was grateful for the opportunity. I did this several times, and slowly began to develop an eye for it. The most crucial aspect of stage photography is the ability to anticipate what's going to happen. This ability is part-talent, but mostly practice. I continued shooting at small shows and eventually snuck my camera into bigger shows as well. I know now that it's audacious to do so, but at the time, I was naive, and it seemed like an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

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After some time, my work began to be noticed and I had lots of actors asking me if they could use the photos I took for their websites or social media, and I happily obliged. However, on the same token, I had plenty of actors taking my photos without permission as well. Unfortunately, that's just the cost of the convenience of social media, but I think it's worth the benefits.Β Either way, this was exactly the kind of validation I needed to realize stage photography was something I wanted to keep pursuing.Β 

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I kept shooting and improving my craft. I started to know, instinctually, what camera settings would work best given the conditions of the stage, and the pacing of the actors and shows. Over time, the art of anticipation became second nature to me, and I was able to capture shots I couldΒ be proud of.Β 

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It's become a true love for me, and there are honestly just so many things that make it exciting to me. Like a wedding, you have the opportunity to capture emotion, but because it's theatre it's just so much more over the top, and fun. Like with portraiture, you get to work with people, but you also get to work with costumes, backgrounds, props, and creative posing and lighting. Like the theatre itself, stage photography is pure drama, and there's nothing else like it.Β 

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Of course, one goalΒ of mine wasΒ to translate this love into a revenue strea