Shooting Stills on a Motion Picture Film Set

Shooting stills on a motion picture really does call for some unique skills, many of them have little in relation to photography itself.
I was lucky enough to work on ‘The Matrix’ in the late 90’s and since then, I have been privileged to shoot on some of the biggest action films of all time like the ‘Bourne’ films, ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘GreenZone’.

Primarily my job is to tell the directors story.
What I do is shoot in parallel, my images freeze a moment and allow you to take a little look around, in many ways a great still image should compliment the directors vision or even answer a question. When I am on set I shoot it like it’s a real event and everything around me is actually happening, I treat it like I am a photojournalist recording history.

My 2 rules are timing and patience. Timing isn’t just about when to press the button but also when to walk away and patience is to remind me that the ‘great’ images don’t happen every day – that 1 image that tells the story for the entire film may in fact still be months away so be confident and don’t get ruffled.

On the movie ‘Safe House’ it wasn’t until the last week that I shot the image of Denzel Washington that was used for the poster, whereas on other occasions like the second ‘Matrix’ film I got the poster from the first shot on the first day of shooting so you just never know when that iconic image is going to present itself.

I feel like I am getting better with each film, this past year has been colossal, it started with shooting the opening titles on the New Bond film ‘Skyfall’, another film for Paul Greengrass ‘Captain Phillips’ and the massive new Mad Max film ‘Fury Road’.