Wednesday, 1 June 2011


A while ago I was commissioned to shoot stills for the BBC TV series 'Hustle'

It had quite a star studded cast including Robert Vaughn, who starred in the man from U.N.C.L.E , Marc Warren(Band of Brothers), Ashley Walters (Dead man Running), Robert Glenister (Many British TV appearances including A touch of Frost and Spooks) and Jaime Murray  who has multiple TV drama appearances under her belt .

Now when you are shooting on a TV set or film set it is important to try and get a good rapport with the crew but especially the floor manager as a stills photographer is often greeted with all the enthusiasm of a rabid lepper.

This time the crew were very accommodating but time is beyond premium so you sometimes have seconds, not miniutes, as with this line up a la usual suspects, they gave me 30 seconds at the the end of the scene before they broke the set down and a new set was put into place, yes it really works like this, so you HAVE to get on with people if you are to have any kind of success on set.

I shot it at a very low shutter speed 1/4 sec at F8 on my Canon 1ds using a 24/70mm lens lit with one Elinchrom Ranger with a Chimera Medium softbox, high and off to camera right.

The brief was to shoot portraits of each of the stars, so i negotiated that we could do this between filming scenes.

But there was a problem. They could not leave their dressing rooms as they were waiting to be called for the next scene.

Think famous actors, some of whom had worked in Hollywood and you think of spacious changing rooms, the very lap of luxury.

The reality tends to be very different.

On this occasion the dressing rooms were some kind of converted offices in an old mill which were tiny.

Barely any space at all, and let's just say the the decor had seen better days.......

How to shoot something creative in a micro space like this?

This in my opion is where you earn your money.

Under pressure and having to come up with a creative solution which will see you hired next time.

I shot Jaime Murray in the tightest of spaces but with a little creative lighting, a simple beauty shot with 2 small Chimera soft boxes on Elinchrom Rangers which literally left space for the actress and I 

They were set up in a butterfly array with the top light on full power with the fill light on the floor on half power, to give this rather glamorous sexy look.

I shot between the soft boxes with my Canon 1ds exposing at 1/80sec F11

We were lucky in that we had a plain background to work against and we managed to get this rather alluring portrait in a minute or so.

One down 4 to go, all of which went pretty well, but the shot I was most pleased with was of Marc Warren


His dressing room was a real challenge, the was actually a little more space in this one but the decor was erm challenging.

Time to create an interesting background from more less nothing.

I had a flash of inspiration though and I saw the frosted glass and I hatched a cunning plan........

I got the assistant to put a flash head on a light stand and put it outside the window, pointing back into the dressing room from outside, all a bit risky and hap hazard as we were 4 stories up.

I used one of my Norman 400b flashes which have now been replaced, following my Internet giveaway, with Elinchrom Quadra's. The job would have been made easier with these as I can adjust the output with the Skyport controller.

It took a couple of frames but the rather dull background was transformed.

The key light on Marc as a Elinchrom Ranger with a medium Chimera softbox to camera left.

When undertaking a high pressure high profile assignment you MUST get the safety shot.


But it is pushing the boundaries and trying something a little bit different which will make you stand out from the crowd.

Making sure you get the next assignment.


Mark R Coons - Music Man5 Photos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark R Coons - Music Man5 Photos said...

Thank you Drew! Hustle has always been a favorite of mine. It contained brilliant writing and acting. So your article about how you captured your images was educational and (for me) entertaining. Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

Unknown said...

Hi Mark,

Thank you for commenting

I'm pleased you enjoyed the post.

The shoot was a lot of fun.



M. Christopher Holloway said...

Brilliant work, Drew! My wife and I are watching Hustle now being broadcast in the USA on BBC America. We love the show. Great post. Thank you for sharing. Cheers.

Unknown said...

Thanks Christopher,

It was a great honour to work with Robert Vaughn.

Not only an icon, a pro, but a really lovely guy.



Anonymous said...

Beautifully done - the second portrait is definitely my favourite and it's always so great to read how it all comes together. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks Morgana

It was quite a day....

So pleased the assistant did not drop the light!