Upfront Bartender

Upfront Bartender

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Stephen Edwards, a regular improv comedian at the Upfront Theatre, is starting up a new show. ‘The Comedy Panel’ will debut at the Upfront February 10th, at 10pm, and will feature Bellingham’s favorite improv comedians to entertain the crowd.

Stephen approached me a couple weeks ago, let me in on his new show, and wanted me to shoot the photography for the marketing. The main idea was that the photography presented Stephen as the host and the other comedy players as… well… the players. So how do you clearly represent this and identify people in a photograph without drawing arrows with labels to different people on the poster?

In the past, all of the Upfront photography has taken place at the theatre. All but the photo shoot I had previously done for Stephen (click here for that). I’ve shot the players in the theatre so many times… I’m going to try my best to talk them into working in new environments as much as I can from here on out. Stephen was open to hearing some ideas, so I shot a metaphor his way that I thought would best represent the whole “host and players” visual. It was kinda funny, cause we were at a pub at the time, talking about how we were going to accomplish the shoot concept, and I looked over and saw a bartender working away. I go, “how about you are the bartender working behind the bar, the players are the customers sitting at the bar.” He loved the idea, all we had to do was line up a bar that would let us literally take over there space at 6pm. We lucked out and Skylark’s, in Fairhaven, was happy to accommodate the shoot and a handful of comedians for half an hour. That’s a thing about Bellingham, there really is a sense of community, a willingness to help out without expecting something back. A characteristic that is consistently fading away everywhere, and is almost surprising when you find it.

I hadn’t been this nervous for a shoot in a long time. Mainly because we were working in a live environment where the customers had no idea we were showing up, we had to kick people out of their seats, I had to setup lights in the middle of everything, and I had 30 minutes to setup, nail the shots, and get out.

Very simple setup here, two lights – one key light, a strip softbox, and the second was a speedlight, used as a kicker/hair light. Lighting placement wasn’t perfect, but like I said, I had to place lights in areas of low customer traffic. The last thing I needed to hear is a light getting kicked over, so I played it safe.

If I have to produce some interesting photos very quickly and rely on the subjects, there are not many people I’d place above the Upfront players. They can produce at the snap of a finger, and they are always funny. “Animated” is selling them short, and it’s almost frustrating these photos are not video, because they are not just looking funny, they are actually giving mini performances, which obviously don’t translate in the photos.

Wouldn’t have been a fun photo shoot without a broken glass…

Love this photo of Morgan, in the middle with the mustache.

At the very end we got some simple headshots, all in the same theme of the bar for a “just in case” Stephen needed some individual shots.

Of course, I snagged one of the man at the end.

More to come…