My year in theatre, dance and portrait photography 2014

January 30th, 2015 by Helen

Jersey Boys - UK Tour

At this time of year it is good to reflect on the past twelve months, so I thought I would display some of my theatre and dance work of 2014, putting more of an emphasis on shows I haven’t previously blogged. I am extremely fortunate in that I get to shoot some excellent productions across the UK, from small fringe plays to big West End productions, and I love the variety of the shows. There are often pragmatic differences between shooting at a sixty seater venue than a one that holds 2500 people, but ultimately it is about capturing those few moments that encapsulate the show.

Jersey Boys - UK Tour

This year I have been lucky enough to work on a lot of UK tours. I shot the Jersey Boys rehearsal images in London but I travelled to Manchester and Sunderland to take production images. Shrek the Musical rehearsed in the capital, but opened in Leeds. In 2014 I also worked in Plymouth, Bristol, Stratford-upon Avon, Birmingham, Salford, Stoke on Trent, Bradford, Southampton and Cardiff. The quality of theatres across the UK is superb, and it has been a pleasure to visit so many cities.

Shrek the Musical UK Tour

Donkey and Dragon Shrek the Musical Freak Flag - Shrek the Musical Shrek the Musical

Shrek the Musical Shrek the Musical Shrek the Musical Shrek the Musical

Please click on a thumbnail to see larger images.

Promotional photography for Shrek the Musical

I was also asked to take studio photographs of the cast of Shrek for promotional use. Check out my previous blog post to view more images and see a video of the shoot.

The Roof - Fuel

The Roof - Fuel

I travelled to Bristol for The Roof by Fuel. It was such an unusual show, part theatre, part dance, part movement, and very compelling. Unfortunately it rained heavily on both nights of the dress rehearsals, so I was only able to take a few images before the rehearsals were called off. What little I did manage to photograph was intriguing and very dynamic. As a photographer working in the performing arts, this is one of the many times you need to react to the situation and deal with you hand you are given. It can be frustrating to lose the opportunity to shoot the show from start to finish, but I always know that however difficult it is for me, it is even harder for the cast and crew who are usually opening the next day. It is excellent when you manage to get the images despite the conditions – and the feeling that you have managed to succeed against the odds is one of the many reasons I relish live photography. On the opposite end of the spectrum I photographed The Mousetrap Tour, a London institution, it has had a very successful tour across the UK and Ireland. Conditions could not be more different – we took the images during a photocall which meant the photos were set up for me and then lines of the play were run. The director and I moved the cast around to get the best looking photos, and these are then displayed front of house at the venues and in the local press when the play comes to town.

The Mousetrap UK tour

Secret Theatre Show 4

Secret Theatre Show 4 Secret Theatre Show 4 Secret Theatre Show 4 Lyric Hammersmith Secret Theatre Show 6

The Lyric Hammersmith in London is one of my favourite venues – and it was one of my earliest theatre clients. This year I captured three of their Secret Theatre productions, Show 4, Show 5 and Show 6, and also photographed promotional images for them. I was in Kingston, at the Rose theatre for Hetty Feather – a dramatisation of Jacqueline Wilson’s best selling books and at the Arcola Theatre in Hackney for Tamasha’s My Name Is…

Hetty Feather at the Rose Theatre Kingston

My Name is... by Tamasha

In April I travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon to the Swan Theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Roaring Girl, and The Witch of Edmonton. Also for the RSC, I was asked to shoot more production images of the London production of Matilda the Musical after their recast. I have been extremely lucky this year to have shot an extremely wide range of shows, from Beauty and the Beast in Istanbul, Frantic Assembly’s The Believers, Rifco’s Happy Birthday Sunita featuring the phenomenal Shabana Azmi, One Snowy Night at the Discover Children’s Story Centre and the Donmar’s Henry IV. Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images.

One Snowy Night at the Discover Children's Story Centre The Witch of Edmonton The Believers

Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse Rifco's Happy Birthday Sunita Beauty and the Beast

RSC's The Roaring Girl

Matilda the Musical production photography

Matilda the Musical production photography

I also shoot promotional images using studio lighting and this year I shot a number of images for posters. Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images:

Oh What a Lovely War! Macbeth The Believers - promotional poster

Poster for The One Selfie by the National Youth Theatre  Private Peaceful

I have shot some fantastic dance performances in 2014, including Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake and Lord of the Flies and the Royal Ballet’s Don Quixote.

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake

Sometimes the line between dance and theatre becomes very blurred – in the summer I took rehearsal images for Guys and Dolls for the Chichester Festival Theatre, which was choreographed by the ballet star Carlos Acosta.

Guys and Dolls - Carlos Acosta directing the ensemble

The male ensemble leap in the air during Guys and Dolls rehearsals

Here are some more of my rehearsal images, including Terence Rattigan’s Variation on a Theme, the RSC’s Matilda and The Witch of Edmonton, Memphis and The Believers.

The Witch of Edmonton Rehearsing Shrek the Musical Memphis the Musical rehearsals

The Believers rehearsals Hetty Feather rehearsals photography Rachel Stirling rehearsing Variation on a Theme

Gregory Doran directing The Witch of Edmonton RSC's Matilda the Musical Rehearsals Rehearsing Shrek the Musical

Ian Reddington photographed by Helen Maybanks

It is great shooting portraiture, although it is very different to a lot of the other work I do. Ideally with rehearsal and production photography the subjects should be unaware you are there. In reality this is difficult to achieve as most people are very camera conscious, but even so you tend to keep your distance during the shoot and observe rather than interact. When taking a portrait the photographer and subject need to have a rapport, it is my job to help the sitter relax and trust me, and normally this needs to be done very quickly. I love talking to my subjects, and getting to know them a little better, and last year was no exception. Here are a few of the images I took this year, including Ian Reddington for Oh What a Lovely War!

Beverley Knight David Bryan Mark Puddle

Phoebe Waller-Bridge Director Steve Marmion with the cast of The One for Soho Theatre Vicky Graham

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Memphis the Musical

January 19th, 2015 by Helen

Memphis the Musical

Several months ago I was asked to take rehearsal photographs for the brilliant new musical Memphis.

Beverley Knight

Memphis stars Beverley Knight, who is possibly one the nicest people I have ever photographed. I took this portrait of Beverley several months before rehearsals started when she met up with David Bryan to promote the show. Music and some of the lyrics were written by David Bryan (below), whose other job is the keyboardist in Bon Jovi. David did not disappoint, looking every inch the rock star, whilst being very friendly and regaling us with great stories of life on the road.

Portrait of David Bryan

Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images.

Memphis the Musical Memphis the Musical Laura Ellis rehearsing Memphis the Musical Memphis the Musical

Rolan Bell and Beverley Knight Killian Donnelly, David Bryan and Beverley Knight Memphis the Musical Microphone

Rolan Bell as Delray

Rolan Bell as Delray

Dawnita Smith jumps during rehearsals

I covered several of the rehearsals, including the opening day read through, singing classes, scenes between the leads and ensemble choreography. The dancers on this show are incredible and watching Sergio Trujillo and Edgar Godineaux whip them into shape was a privilege.

Killian Donnelly

Memphis the Musical Memphis the Musical Memphis the Musical

Jason Pennycooke as Bobby

Memphis the Musical

The show is fantastic, it’s inspired by true events in the 1950s and tells the story of music and love breaking down barriers in the deeply segregated city of Memphis. It looks and sounds stunning, with some of the slickest dancing and best vocals I have heard in a long time. Beverley Knight is sensational, I knew she had a fantastic voice but to see her belting out the tunes whilst dancing and acting her socks off is remarkable. But it isn’t a one woman show, all of the cast are talented and I was particularly impressed by Rolan Bell (above) who plays Delray .

 

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The wedding of Hannah and Martin

December 30th, 2014 by Helen

The bride and groom are showered with confetti outside  King Charles The Martyr Church

Last weekend I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding of Hannah and Martin.

Hannah's mum helps her into her wedding dress

I started at Hannah’s parents’ home in Potter’s Bar where the bridal party were preparing. Hannah looked absolutely stunning in her dress by Justin Alexander. Hair and make-up were by Jayne and Ashley, who are family-friends of the bride’s.

The wedding of Hannah and Martin

The wedding of Hannah and Martin

Hannah’s Grandma Dorothy with Hannah’s cousin Abi. Please double click on the thumbnails to see larger images.

The wedding of Hannah and Martin Hannah's mum Helen helps Hannah into her jewellery Hannah's brother Jeremy

The wedding of Hannah and Martin The flowers The wedding of Hannah and Martin

The wedding of Hannah and Martin

The wedding was held at King Charles The Martyr Church in Potters Bar.

The wedding of Hannah and Martin

The wedding of Hannah and MartinThe wedding of Hannah and Martin The wedding of Hannah and Martin The wedding of Hannah and Martin

The wedding in King Charles the Martyr Church, Potters Bar

The wedding of Hannah and Martin

Hannah’s bridesmaids, flower-girl Abi and mum Helen with confetti outside the church.

The wedding of Hannah and Martin

The wedding of Hannah and Martin

We all went to St Michael’s Manor Hotel in St Albans for the reception.

The wedding of Hannah and Martin

 The wedding of Hannah and Martin The wedding of Hannah and Martin The wedding of Hannah and Martin

Hannah and Martin

The wedding of Hannah and Martin The wedding of Hannah and Martin The wedding of Hannah and Martin

The wedding of Hannah and Martin

The wedding of Hannah and Martin

There was a hilarious song by the bride’s brother Jeremy, and some lovely speeches by Martin, Hannah’s dad John, and a very funny one by best man John who had created a book of the groom’s life.

Martin's father Dave The bride's brother Jeremy enjoying the wedding speeches Martin's life in pictures - the best man's homage

The wedding of Hannah and Martin The wedding of Hannah and Martin The wedding of Hannah and Martin

Cutting the cake at  St Michael’s Manor Hotel

The wedding of Hannah and Martin

The first dance was Cheek to Cheek played by the excellent band The Prototypes.

The wedding of Hannah and Martin

The wedding of Hannah and Martin The wedding of Hannah and Martin The wedding of Hannah and Martin

The wedding of Hannah and Martin at St Michael’s Manor Hotel

 

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Don Quixote

December 2nd, 2014 by Helen

Marianela Núñez and Carlos Acosta in Don Quixote

I recently took photos of the Royal Ballet’s beautiful Don Quixote at the Royal Opera House. The ballet is based on an episode from Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, and the choreography has been updated by Carlos Acosta, who also stars along with the fantastic Marianela Nunez. The production has received some excellent reviews and runs until 22nd January.

Carlos Acosta as Basilio  in Don Quixote by the Royal Ballet

Don Quixote

Marianela Núñez and Carlos Acosta in Don Quixote

Marianela Núñez and Carlos Acosta in Don Quixote

Don Quixote

Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images:

Ryoichi Hirano as Espada in Don Quixote by the Royal Ballet Don Quixote Marianela Núñez in Don Quixote

Marianela Núñez and Carlos Acosta in Don Quixote Don Quixote Don Quixote

Don Quixote

 

 

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The Witch of Edmonton

November 14th, 2014 by Helen

Shvorne Marks as Winnifride, Elspeth Brodie as Katherine, Eileen Atkins as Mother Sawyer and Timothy Speyer as Justice in The Witch of Edmonton.

Several weeks ago I went up to Stratford-upon-Avon to photograph the Royal Shakespeare company’s production of The Witch of Edmonton. Written in 1621 by William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford, and supposedly based on real events at the time, it tells the story of a woman, Mother Sawyer, accused of witchcraft in the village of Edmonton. Mother Sawyer was played by the excellent Eileen Atkins, and has received great reviews. The Observer said of her, ‘There is a marvellous offhandedness about her performance, of the sort only an experienced actor at home on stage would dare to pull off’. The show runs until 29th November and has completely sold out – an indicator of the quality of the RSC’s productions and appeal of seeing Eileen Atkins in such an intimate setting. Here are a few more production images from the play:

Ian Bonar as Frank Thorney in the RSC's The Witch of Edmonton.

Elspeth Brodie as Katherine and Dafydd Llyr Thomas as Cuddy Banks in The Witch of Edmonton

Ian Bonar as Frank Thorney and Faye Castelow as Susan in The Witch of Edmonton

Ian Bonar as Frank Thorney and Elspeth Brodie as Katherine in The Witch of Edmonton

The Company of The Witch of Edmonton in the Swan Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon

Shvorne Marks as Winnifride in The Witch of Edmonton

Eileen Atkins as Mother Sawyer The Witch of Edmonton by the RSC

 

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Beauty and the Beast

November 1st, 2014 by Helen

Production photos of Beauty and the Beast ©2014 Helen Maybanks

Last month I was asked to travel to Istanbul to take production photographs of Beauty and the Beast. It is an international production currently travelling around the world to a diverse range of countries including the Philippines, Thailand, Greece, Italy, United Arab Emirates and of course Turkey. I had never previously seen the show and I was very impressed – it has a fantastic score, beautiful large scale dance numbers and the set is a vivid extravaganza of colour – perfect for a photographer. The young cast were extremely talented, many of them had stared in the show in the USA. I shot two dress rehearsals, including one with an invited audience who were extremely appreciative. Large-scale musicals of the sort we see on the West End or in Broadway are relatively new to Turkey, but judging by the audience’s reaction they are becoming extremely popular. If you do find yourself in a city with it on, I would recommend you check it out.

Production photos of Beauty and the Beast ©2014 Helen Maybanks

Production photos of Beauty and the Beast ©2014 Helen Maybanks

Production photos of Beauty and the Beast ©2014 Helen Maybanks

Production photos of Beauty and the Beast ©2014 Helen Maybanks

Production photos of Beauty and the Beast ©2014 Helen Maybanks Production photos of Beauty and the Beast ©2014 Helen Maybanks Production photos of Beauty and the Beast ©2014 Helen Maybanks

Please click on the thumbnails to see large images.

Production photos of Beauty and the Beast ©2014 Helen Maybanks

Production photos of Beauty and the Beast ©2014 Helen Maybanks

Production photos of Beauty and the Beast ©2014 Helen Maybanks

Production photos of Beauty and the Beast ©2014 Helen Maybanks

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Henry IV at the Donmar

October 23rd, 2014 by Helen

Clare Dunne and Jade Anouka in Henry IV

In 2012 I photographed Julius Caesar, the first of the all-female Shakespeare trilogy directed by Phyllida Lloyd, and it was one of my favourite shows of the year. I was delighted when the team asked me back to photograph the second installment, Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse. Like Julius Caesar, Henry IV is set in a woman’s prison and stars the excellent Harriet Walter, in this case playing King Henry.

Harriet Walter as King Henry in Henry IV

Cynthia Erivo and Jade Anouka spar in the boxing ring

From a photographer point of view it was an excellent production to shoot. The Donmar is an intimate venue and I was able to get right up close to the action. In this scene The Earl of Douglas and Hotspur are preparing for battle, but as it is set in prison Cynthia Erivo and Jade Anouka spar in the gym.

Shiloh Coke as Mortimer

Clare Dunne as Hal in Henry IV

The production is fantastic, as with Julius Caesar it has been one of the best shows I have worked on all year. There are too many great performances to single out, as all the cast are so good. It has received excellent reviews and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Please click on the thumbnails to see larger images.

Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse The new King = Clare Dunne talks to the crowds Harriet Walter as King Henry Sharon Rooney as Lady Percy with Hotspur

Ann Ogbomo as Worcester

Cast members of Henry IV, including Ashley McGuire as Falstaff

Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse

Jade Anouka as Hotspur

The characters in masks during Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse

 

Update: The cast have released a single featuring Sharon Rooney, performing a cover of Daddy’s Gone to raise money for Clean Break, Justice for Women and the Donmar’s outreach work. Buy the single on iTunes and Amazon.

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Shrek the Musical Promotional images

September 28th, 2014 by Helen

Portraits of Fiona and Donkey from Shrek the Musical

During the summer I was asked to take promotional photographs for the Shrek the Musical Tour. These images were needed for use in advertising and marketing for the show across the UK and Ireland. Taking high quality images for a show like Shrek is a real team effort, and it was a privilege to work with such talented actors, costume makers, make up artists and all the other creatives that combine to work on a top musical.

The Three Little Pigs

Ugly Duckling, the Mad Hatter, Lord Farquad and the White Rabbit

photos of the cast of Shrek the Musical, including the Three Bears and Pinocchio

 

When I shoot production and rehearsal photography I use digital SLRs as they offer the best combination of quality and speed. However for advertising studio work I like to use medium format cameras which give both the largest and the best quality images. These were shot with a Phase One IQ180 which gives 80 megapixels. As an example, here are Princess Fiona and Donkey zoomed in, and you can see the quality.

 

Close ups of Donkey and Princess Fiona

When shooting in the studio I work with a team of assistants to get the best results. Ben Peter Catchpole was first assistant and in charge of the excellent lighting, Oliver Rudkin was second assistant, Alex Cornes was in charge of digital workflow, and I can highly recommend the three of them. Thea at White Dwarf Retouch did an excellent job of post production. Shrek created a ‘behind the scenes’ video of the shoot, so please take a look to get a better idea:

 

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Chris and Jack

September 19th, 2014 by Helen

Chris and Jack in the grounds of the BMA

Last weekend I photographed the wedding of Jack and Chris.

Islington Town Hall

The couple were married at Islington Town Hall in London.

The wedding of Chris and Jack

The wedding of Chris and Jack

The wedding of Chris and Jack

The wedding of Chris and Jack

The wedding rings

The couple had their beautiful engraved wedding rings made at The Ring Workshop in Oswestry.

The wedding of Chris and Jack

The wedding of Chris and Jack

Inside a black cab

After the ceremony everyone got in London taxis to get to the reception venue, the BMA House on Tavistock Square. Both Chris and Jack looked extremely stylish in their dapper jackets.

The wedding of Chris and Jack

The couple are originally from Malaysia but have lived and travelled all over the world. Friends flew in from across the globe to celebrate their special day.

The wedding of Chris and Jack

The wedding of Chris and Jack Waving to the crowds The wedding of Chris and Jack

The wedding of Chris and Jack

The lunch was held in The Prince’s Room. They had clearly put a lot of thought into the decorations and the room had lots of lovely personal touches like Chinese lanterns and sunflowers on the table.

The wedding of Chris and Jack

Chris gave a lovely welcome speech to his guests.

Chinese lantern Bird place name A guest enjoying the wedding receptionf

The wedding of Chris and Jack The wedding of Chris and Jack The wedding favours

Chris and Jack at the BMA

The wedding of Chris and Jack

The wedding of Chris and Jack

The wedding of Chris and Jack

The wedding of Chris and Jack

After lunch there was an excellent singer, the talented Vilija Leitanaite, who sung a range of songs including a beautiful version of Pasti, originally by Ning Baizura.

The wedding of Chris and Jack

The wedding of Chris and Jack The wedding of Chris and Jack The wedding of Chris and Jack

The wedding of Chris and Jack Weddings cards for Chris and Jack at BMA House The wedding of Chris and Jack

The cakes were made by Rachelle’s Beautiful Bespoke Cakes in South London.

The wedding of Chris and Jack

Craig and Paul

September 9th, 2014 by Helen

A portrait of Craig and Paul

Recently I photographed the wedding of Paul and Craig at The Conservatory at The Barbican.

Paul's mum Bernadette

Judy walks her son Craig into the wedding

Craig’s mum Judy and Paul’s mother Bernadette walked their sons down the aisle.

Exchanging the wedding rings

Craig places the wedding ring on Paul’s finger.

The wedding ceremony

Singing the register

The signing of the register.

The wedding of Craig and Paul

Enjoying the reception The string quartet Enjoying the reception

Enjoying the reception Enjoying the reception Enjoying the reception

Paul is originally from the US and his mother from Belgium so family and friends had flown in from around the world to celebrate the couple’s wedding.

A black and white portrait of Craig and Paul

A portrait of Craig and Paul

The Conservatory at the Barbican is London’s second largest Conservatory and home to 2000 species of tropical plants and trees. It was a great setting for some portraits of the couple who looked very stylish in their charcoal suits, Craigs was from Hackett and Paul’s was Charles Tyrwhitt. The cake was made by Victoria Bakery and the florist was Flower Fantasies.

The wedding of Craig and Paul

The wedding speeches

The wedding of Craig and Paul Enjoying the speeches Paul's Dad Jim enjoying the speeches

Enjoying the speeches Enjoying the speeches Enjoying the speeches

Rohit the Best Man

There were some lovely speeches including a funny and touching one by best man Rohit.

A black and white portrait of Craig and Paul

 

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