Available Light portrait with James Cosmo and Geoff Thompson

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend a private screening of an upcoming film starring James Cosmo, written by BAFTA-winning Geoff Thompson, and directed by the Shammasian Brothers, called The Pyramid Texts. It's a powerful monologue about an old, battle-worn boxer, recalling and atoning for his life, trying to heal his relationship with his estranged son.

I was asked to make an informal portrait of James and Geoff on location at the screening with available light. I was both excited to work with two people who've developed their craft so thoroughly, and nervous that I couldn't walk in with lighting gear and rely on that to help me get the shot I needed.

I visited the location, a bar and beautiful screening room, ahead of the shot for some inspiration. The bar was a lot of fun - decorative wallpaper, table ornaments, neon lights on the wall, and large floral arrangements - but not ideal for a portrait. I wanted to both capture the character of the two men so central to the project, and create an image that told a story.

After holding this in contemplation the vision came to me that I could both tell the story and light James and Geoff beautifully by using the big cinema screen itself as my light source, and the theatre as my stage. I could potentially get a 'hard' light from the projector to highlight the edges of the subjects, which would separate them from the background and give the image 'pop.' I would also get 'soft' light bouncing off the screen to light the subjects from the front, and convey the wonderful feeling of being in front of the Big Screen, and being absorbed in a great film.

Having a clear vision was vital for this portrait session, as it was to be done within a matter of minutes, and with multiple other competing scenarios (filming, interviews, meet-and-greets, and of course showing the film!).

When James and Geoff came in for the session I quickly explained the look I was going for, and they graciously went with the flow, and gave me their great presence to work with.

I would like to thank Geoff Thompson, James Cosmo, and the fantastic directors the Shammasian Brothers for a powerful film, and a great evening. Keep an eye out for The Pyramid Texts.