Promotional Shoot – RXV



RXV Contact Sheet

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The very best photo shoots are the ones where the photographer, client, and talent are all completely in sync and the images coming out of the camera are spot-on, there’s real collaboration going on, and everyone is having fun. To be realistic, it’s the sort of ideal shoot – almost a nirvana – that’s hard to reach, but it’s an ideal that I always aim for. And when it works like that, it’s great.

The photos are here are from the promotional shoot for The Vintage theater troupe’s latest production, entitled “RXV,” whichs stands for Reunion XV. As you might surmise from the title, it’s a piece that focuses on a selection of students at their 15th high school reunion, long after their school itself has been closed down, but not so long that the pangs, yearnings, and drama of high school have been forgotten.

The photo at top is the contact sheet from the shoot, showing all the individual portraits we shot as a cast. It’s also a bit of a mockup, since the producers are thinking of using the photos in a made-up yearbook page, so this gives them an idea of how it could look, in rough fashion.

BRENT PENNINGTON The cast of RXV, a Vintage Theater troupe production, poses in 90s yearbook portrait style during a promo shoot on 10 October 2013.

BRENT PENNINGTON The cast of RXV, a Vintage Theater troupe production, poses in 90s yearbook portrait style during a promo shoot on 10 October 2013.

A 15 year reunion makes this the class of 1998 so clearly our photos had to capture not only the essence of the characters, but also that specific 90s look which has, I’m pretty sure, grown to something of an exaggerated proportion thanks to pop culture. But basically, having been a child of the 90s I have some first-hand memories of that look which was all to often, in a word, ugly. So the trick here was to ugly up the photos just enough to make them seem authentic, hence that delightfully horrid background and some of the more questionable outfit choices.

What I was saying in the beginning about an ideal shoot, this was one of them. I can’t overstate the importance of having a crew that’s at ease with each other. This is my third promo session with The Vintage’s theater troupe and I’m not exaggerating when I say that we’ve reached that nirvana point. The actors are completely at ease in front of the camera; they trust me to make them look great, which makes it even easier for them to really dig down into their roles, pull out all the stops, and make great images.

BRENT PENNINGTON The cast of RXV, a Vintage Theater troupe production, poses in 90s yearbook portrait style during a promo shoot on 10 October 2013.

BRENT PENNINGTON The cast of RXV, a Vintage Theater troupe production, poses in 90s yearbook portrait style during a promo shoot on 10 October 2013.

BRENT PENNINGTON The cast of RXV, a Vintage Theater troupe production, poses in 90s yearbook portrait style during a promo shoot on 10 October 2013.

The collaboration was amazing as well. Thanks to the magic of digital – and we definitely couldn’t have done this the same back in the film days – I was able to stand behind the camera with both directors and review the images on the rear screen as soon as we shot them. With the photo right in front of us, it was easy to make suggestions on posing, props, and expressions; to talk out ideas and work through minor setbacks right then and there.

In my experience that kind of true, honest, meaningful collaboration can sometimes be hard to come by, which makes it invaluable when you find it. And it makes the whole creative process so much fun that we were all a little sad when the shoot was over.

BRENT PENNINGTON The cast of RXV, a Vintage Theater troupe production, poses in 90s yearbook portrait style during a promo shoot on 10 October 2013.

BRENT PENNINGTON The cast of RXV, a Vintage Theater troupe production, poses in 90s yearbook portrait style during a promo shoot on 10 October 2013.

BRENT PENNINGTON The cast of RXV, a Vintage Theater troupe production, poses in 90s yearbook portrait style during a promo shoot on 10 October 2013.

I’m thrilled with this set and can’t wait to photograph the performance itself. Much like the troupe’s last piece, “The Last Cocktail Party of Venus,” this is an experimental performance, where the audience is actually playing the role of the other reunion attendees and the actors are in their midst and mingling, in character.

If you’re in the area you should definitely come down to The Vintage for the single performance on 09 November at 6pm!

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