Deborah Grosmark Photography • The Creative Arts Corner of Hudson Valley (Arts Education)
Production & Feature Film Unit Stills Photography
I have been working on-location along the east coast and teaching over the past 19-years. My work as focused primarily on people, artists, and acrobats within the commercial, editorial, and documentary genres. Artistically, I strive to capture moments that are genuine, in-motion, and true to both their environment and the spirit of the lives I record.
As a visual storyteller, my job is to interpret and capture the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual expression of each chosen project or scene. My ultimate goal is to breathe life into each frame, as I contribute towards the client’s message and purpose.
As a set photographer, I must also understand the complexities and rhythm of my surroundings. While capturing performances, I remain low-key, physically aware, and sensitive to all those creating around me.
I have been very lucky to have photographed a variety of exciting on-and-off Broadway productions. A few of my favorite productions were when I documented PIPPIN Revival (2014), Sigourney Weaver (Lincoln Center, 2010), Cirque Éloize, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Big Apple Circus and Les 7 doights de la main.
In 2013, I had landed my first indie feature film and purchased the original BLACKRAPID Double strap. Since I am primarily action, I modified the strap with additional accessories (Brads, etc.). My subjects are typically coming at me from every direction, and I don’t enjoy changing lenses in the field.
I also have a lot of continual moving (and running) around to get “the shot.” When you combine all of that with the location’s environmental elements such as wind, rain, fire, and dust, there is no other strap like the BR Double.
Most recently, I have been working on a large scale cinematic documentary under the direction of a multi-planetary architectural and technology design agency. My business will expand this summer, to include a new studio location for both clients and aspiring young photographers.
Any Great Photography Tips?
Whether on set, the stage, or in the ring, the action is quick and typically we have one chance to capture the decisive moment. Think of yourself as a problem-solver – memorize the choreography and blocking; make notes of peaks scenes; research past imagery within the project’s genre; and gather the proper tools that will facilitate the DP’s and/or director’s vision. All that is left is for you to add a bit of your artistic interpretation and then get to work.
Secondly, a set photographer’s environment is ever-changing, and being fully prepared is so important. Having gear like BLACKRAPID, a speed belt with pouches, sound blimp, rain covers, ponchos, gloves, and knee pads will get you through the toughest of conditions.
Finally, my best overall advice for working within this industry is research, preparation, collaboration, and the willingness to “live the moment.” These are key components in order to successfully capture and deliver live production and unit still imagery.
Set Photography: A Day in the Life
One of the most exciting sessions was on-location for a commercial medieval joust shoot. I put a lot of work into pre-production because conceptualization of story, safety, time, and quality were just a few of the imperative components.
Working with horses, stage combatants with heavy armor, and weaponry needs detailed planning. I created multiple marketing concepts, chose a variety of perspectives and scenes, gathered my production and creative teams, and went to work.
This particular concept was to capture the tournament from the ground, up (underneath the knights’ action). We were not filming at the time, and so it was the coolest experience to have absolutely free rein in the joust field. With a team of highly skilled equestrians at my side, I positioned myself in the middle of the tilt rail.
We rehearsed, allowing the horses to get used to my presence and then had three passes to get the lance break. The session became a phenomenal success, and it was a wrap!
What’s In Your Bag?
Cameras & Lenses
- Nikon D850, D4s & D4
- 14-24mm 2.8
- 24-70mm 2.8
- 70-200mm 2.8
- 24mm 1.4
- 50mm 1.4
- 85mm 1.4
- 105mm 1.4
- Optic Swap System
- Composer Pro
- Sweet 35mm & 50mm
- Edge 50mm & 80mm
Strobes, Modifiers, & Theatrical Lighting
- 2x Profoto B1
- Profoto Beauty Dish
- Rotalux Deep Octabox
- Rotalux Indirect Octabox
- ETC Source Four Pars & Lekos
Accessories & Straps
- BlackRapid Double w/modifiers
- BlackRapid Backpack Breathe w/modifiers
- Think Tank Pro Speed Belt System
- Aquatech Sound Blimp & Tubes
- 4x Think Tank Rain Covers
- 4x Think Tank Airport Backpacks & Roller
- 4x Pelican Hard Cases
- SanDisk CF & Sony XQD