On set photography for movies and TV (aka Unit Still Photographer)
Armed with a degree in Scandinavian Philology (Yes, that’s a real thing) from the University of Wisconsin, Hopper Stone started his career as a photojournalist in 1988. He lived in Helsinki, Rome and Mexico City while being a photographer for the Black Star photographic agency. After covering world events on 5 continents, he transitioned to shooting on film sets as a unit still photographer in 1997.
“I got tired of getting shot at” is the one sentence answer as to why he made the switch. “I’m more of a storyteller than an artist. My job is to lay low, be quiet and just be amongst all of the chaos going on in front of me. Through all of that, I need to filter out what isn’t necessary and include what is necessary to tell the story of what’s going on. It’s like diet photojournalism. I shoot the story, as I see it, of the film being made in front of me. I just see through the noise”.
When he isn’t shooting on set, Hopper can be found in his home recording booth narrating audiobooks.
Do You Have a Good Photo Tip for Us?
Know your stuff. Like have a solid understanding of how photography works. This way, when you are actually shooting, you can concentrate on what’s happening in front of you and not be thinking about how photography works. Also, wear good shoes.
“Do your job, Motherf@*r”!”
I did a project with Samuel L. Jackson. I had only been on for a couple of days when we were coming into a very emotional scene. It was in a very tight space and I didn’t really know yet how Sam felt about stills and what his acting process was like. So I went up to him early in the day and asked if it would be OK for me to be in the room during that scene. Sam is about 6’2” and he leaned over me, poked me in the chest and said, “I got a job. You got a job. All these Motherf@*rs got a job. Just do your job Motherf@*r!”.
It was then that I realized that I had checked an item off of my bucket list which I didn’t know I had: Samuel L. Jackson called me Motherf@*r.
What’s in your bag?
- 2 Sony A9mk2 bodies
- 2 Sony A7smk3 bodies
- A7rmk5 body
- 24-70mm f/2.8 v2
- 70-200mm f/2.8 v2
- 12-24mm f/2.8
- 35mm f/1.4
- 50mm f/1.2
- 85mm f/1.4
- 135mm f/1.8
- 200-600mm f/4.5-6.3
- 9 Sony Touch CF cards
- 1 BLACKRAPID Hybrid strap for 2 cameras
- 1 BLACKRAPID Classic strap for single camera