upfront theatre Tag

The Upfront Theatre has been a regular client of mine for a number of years now. It is the heart of the comedy scene in the Bellingham area, an improv comedy theatre created and owned by one of the improv greats, Ryan Stiles. Though Ryan...

spaceTrekHeader Rewind to just this last weekend. Up in my Bellingham studio editing photos, a song on my iTunes played through my speakers that immediately forced me into a collage of mental imagery (it was a piece of music from the newish Star Trek movie). More specifically, a short video montage cut in a music video style and length, utilizing the Upfront Theatre main stage players as our Star Trek characters. Before the two and a half minute song finished, I was already picking up my phone to call Stephen Edwards, one of the main stage comedians. It took even less time for Stephen to jump on-board with the idea as I excitedly explained my vision over the phone. One lunch meeting later, the gears were greased with enough key shot concepts to go ahead with casting the project and scheduling a shoot date.

matty_2.17.11_ 102 Thursday night at the Upfront Theatre was the place to be. In front of a sold out crowd, the main stage players put on one of the best shows I've ever seen. It was a non-stop string of laughter that made an hour of entertainment seem like only 10 minutes. Ryan Stiles was there, performing with the last group of the 8pm show. For those of you that do not know, Ryan owns the Upfront. He started it up a few years back, and he's been regularly performing with the rest of the main stage players on Thursday nights if he is in town. I have a scheduled shoot with the theatre on Sunday, but I came to the performance to get some live shots, and I'm SO glad that I did. I stayed and captured both the 8 and 10pm shows, both providing plenty of laughs. The first show, an ensemble of the whole gang split into three groups. The second show, presented by The Project, a format hosted by Morgan Grobe and Stephen Edwards, "General Tso's Comedy Show." I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking, and stay tuned for more photos from B-ham!

matty_2.17.11_ 471 I attended the Thursday night showings at the Upfront Theatre yesterday. Man, I think it could have been the best show I've personally seen performed there. I was taking pics the whole time and laughing the whole time. I had to catch myself a few times, laughing so hard when I was taking pics that it was chancing blurring the photos. Ryan Stiles was in attendance, and perform for the crowd last night with the rest of the players. Above, a little sneak peek from the late show. Morgan and his belly, a man not scared to put it out there. As you can see, even one of the guest comedians couldn't help but take it all in. Lots more to come from the number of shoots to come during the week in Bellingham. Just wanted to give you a taste. Stay tuned...

matty_1.26.11_ 067 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?

matty_9.11.10_ 529 I'm really happy with how this batch of photos turned out with the Upfront. I've done the marketing photography for the Upfront Theatre for about a year now, a handful of shoots completed within that time. But this set really came together well. I guess that boils down to two critical things, if you ask me. Myself, mainly a location photographer, love to work with interesting environments, colors, textures, etc. The Upfront theater is kind of the exact opposite of what I look for when I'm out and about shooting. That is a plain stage, plain walls, plain background to the stage. Not that that's a bad thing for the Upfront, that puts all the attention on the improv players, which is exactly where it should be, but makes my job a little more challenging in making an overall visually interesting photograph. Like most insightful photographers should, if they are not "feeling" a background/location, they switch it up, but I do not have this option here. So, I had to tackle this from a different approach. Now, not only am I to make these visually engaging in a fairly plain environment, I also have to ensure that I can capture comedy effectively in a photograph. There is something about comedy that is best translated in motion and sound, and photos... well photos, they kinda take a back seat in that art form. However, if done right, photos can be well-timed and capture some great expressions. So, the two things that I think came together on this shoot to take photos in this environment to the next level... 1.) My lighting and photographic approach - I've slowly adjusted my lighting to best capture facial expressions as well as the rest of the body(s). Simple feat maybe if you have a single person or even two standing in single spot. But these are all over the place, covering the distance of the entire stage. A lot of challenges come into play at that point with lighting position, angles, the inverse square law, etc. Played with different lenses, perspectives, angles, etc from the camera end of things. The end result, I found some things that will forever help me in the realm of shooting comedy, simply put. Things that will be my default starting point when shooting this style. Reason 2.) The upfront players came at me with some great material/scenarios to shoot. The combination made for some excellent material for marketing.

matty_8.22.10_ 514 A photographer can be asked to capture a vast array of people, places, and things. Usually, they all fall into the normal realm. You can throw normal out the window when a comedian books you for a couple hours. Enter Stephen, a comedian regularly found generating laughs in the Bellingham area. I actually first saw Stephen perform well over a year ago at the improv Upfront Theatre, and I have to admit, I thought he was the funniest performer in the building that night. I've done a couple shoots for the Upfront now, assembling some fun shots for marketing material, so it seems that the Theatre's performers are becoming quite partial to my work. Don't mind it one bit either, the comedy shoots are always a good time. I end up laughing through the shoots as I'm clicking away.