Hamlet Promos



BRENT PENNINGTON Promotional photos for The New Vintage Ensemble's 2016 production of Shakespear's "Hamlet," featuring Conor O'Brien as Hamlet.  Photographed at the Little Brick Theater in Scranton, PA, on the afternoon of 07 November 2015.

“To be, or not to be, that is the question….”  Ah yes, that quote that everyone knows – even those of you who didn’t spend an entire semester in college studying the works of Shakespeare!  That, and the quintessential image of Hamlet, the mad prince of Denmark, holding the skull of poor Yorik.  “I knew him well, Hortatio.”

We tried to put a slightly different spin on things…

BRENT PENNINGTON Promotional photos for The New Vintage Ensemble's 2016 production of Shakespear's "Hamlet," featuring Conor O'Brien as Hamlet.  Photographed at the Little Brick Theater in Scranton, PA, on the afternoon of 07 November 2015.

I’m speaking, of course, of the New Vintage Ensemble’s upcoming production of “Hamlet,” which will appear on stage in Scranton this coming January.  This will be NVE’s first mainstage production since their smash hit rendition of “Pride and Prejudice” in 2013, and I know that I’m not alone when I say that I am VERY curious to see what they’ve come up with this time.

A few weeks back I worked with the “Hamlet” production team to shoot a series of early promotional photos, and although that kind of access gives me a peek inside the production, I still don’t know all the details, except that it’s looking damn good!

BRENT PENNINGTON Promotional photos for The New Vintage Ensemble's 2016 production of Shakespear's "Hamlet," featuring Conor O'Brien as Hamlet.  Photographed at the Little Brick Theater in Scranton, PA, on the afternoon of 07 November 2015.

Conor O’Brien is taking the lead as the mad prince himself, and he took to the stage for us during the photoshoot.  The whole concept from the production team and director Casey Thomas was a series of images that emphasized darkness.  Hamlet alone in blackness, seeming to come out of the darkness, with a little help from some well-considered props.

We had four concepts going in, and we used variations on the same overall setup to capture each of them.  First, Conor in an antique high-back chair, almost lounging in it, both with and without some props.  Then the three-hands image, which is featured at the top of this post, with Conor still in the chair, but three shadowy hands reaching out, one to each side and one above, holding props.

BRENT PENNINGTON Promotional photos for The New Vintage Ensemble's 2016 production of Shakespear's "Hamlet," featuring Conor O'Brien as Hamlet.  Photographed at the Little Brick Theater in Scranton, PA, on the afternoon of 07 November 2015.

This was, by far, the biggest success of our shoot that day – a relatively complex scene that came together perfectly, and perhaps even better than we had imagined.  Some fun facts: we weren’t able to find a crown that looked right, so we actually fashioned one out of materials we found on-site moments before taking these photos.  And the liquid in the goblet?  Yeah, it’s hot chocolate.

BRENT PENNINGTON Promotional photos for The New Vintage Ensemble's 2016 production of Shakespear's "Hamlet," featuring Conor O'Brien as Hamlet.  Photographed at the Little Brick Theater in Scranton, PA, on the afternoon of 07 November 2015.

Our third concept was to get Conor up out of his chair and have him standing, screaming for the camera.  This is more of a play on the “mad prince” aspect of the character, but it was a lot of fun to shoot, since Conor wasn’t able to fake a scream.  So for each frame we shot, he actually screamed random words at the camera – including “dooooooooor!” – which usually left all of us dissolving into laughter.

We ended the day with the most unusual series, where we wrote the famous “to be or not to be” quote across Conor’s face and neck with a makeup pencil.  We put him back on stage, standing, and coaxed some madness-inspired expressions from him before calling it a wrap.

BRENT PENNINGTON Promotional photos for The New Vintage Ensemble's 2016 production of Shakespear's "Hamlet," featuring Conor O'Brien as Hamlet.  Photographed at the Little Brick Theater in Scranton, PA, on the afternoon of 07 November 2015.

We knew all along that the final photos would be in black & white, which gave us a lot of leeway in our setups.  It’s really essential to know if you’re using color of black & white before you walk into a shoot; with color you have to really pay attention to the colors that are present, how they interact and contrast, and how they actually appear in the photos.  With black & white, it’s all about tones – a half-dozen different colors may all produce the same shade of gray, so you can drop that factor out of the mental equation.

BRENT PENNINGTON Promotional photos for The New Vintage Ensemble's 2016 production of Shakespear's "Hamlet," featuring Conor O'Brien as Hamlet.  Photographed at the Little Brick Theater in Scranton, PA, on the afternoon of 07 November 2015.

Working with the New Vintage Ensemble is always a pleasure, and I’ve come to expect that these folks will just hit it out of the park any time they step in front of my camera.  I guess that sets the bar pretty high for them, but they keep meeting it!

Be sure to check out the NVE website and Facebook page for more info, and to purchase tickets once they go on sale!

Kate’s Headshots



BRENT PENNINGTON Kathryn Priestash poses for theater headshots in the studio of 18 July 2015.

I broke out the studio gear recently to work with Kate, an actress who works with a number of the local theater ensembles, including The New Vintage Ensemble.  She came to me needing some new headshots as she works to enhance her acting career, and I was thrilled to be able to help her out!

While I’m always happy to work with any portrait client, I’m always a little extra excited to work with theater folks, for the simple reason that they are almost always more comfortable in front of the camera.  These are people who stand on stage in front of audiences of dozens or even hundreds and perform, so the camera doesn’t usually intimidate them much, once you give them a part to play.

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First Friday Scranton – June



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Last week was the June First Friday here in downtown Scranton, and Mandy and I went down for a bit of a date night.  Burgers, stops in a couple of venues, and then Mandy joined the Vintage Theater Ensemble for play the role of a living mannequin in the window of the vintage pop-up shop on Adams Ave.

The pop-up shop has done this once or twice before and it’s always a been a big hit.  Last month it rained and I wasn’t able to go down to see, so I wanted to make a point to check it out this time around, cameras in-hand.

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TLCPoV Outtakes



BRENT PENNINGTON Kelly Farrell, Emily Maier, & April Holgate pose for the promotional shoot of "The Last Cocktail Party of Venus," held at The Vintage on the evening of 09 July 2013.

TLCPoV – which is the short way of saying “The Last Cocktail Party of Venus” – is coming up fast!  I shared some photos from the promo shoot in the original post a couple of weeks ago, but wanted to share some of the outtakes from the session as well.

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Pride & Prejudice headshots



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The cast and crew of “Pride & Prejudice” have spent the past month hard at work learning lines and practicing blocking as they move closer to their opening night on 10 May. I had the chance to join them again this past week at rehearsal to shoot headshots, which will be used in the programs and possible a couple of other places.

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Pride & Prejudice Promo Shoot



BRENT PENNINGTON Promotional images featuring the cast of "Pride & Prejudice," produced for The Vintage Theater.  Session was held at Conor O'Brien's home on Saturday, 23 March 2013.

Wow – what an awesome shoot this was! I hooked up with the cast of The Vintage Theater’s production of “Pride & Prejudice” last Saturday for a themed promotional shoot. Well, it wasn’t just an absolute blast, but this crew rocked it in a major way.

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