How I Found Myself as a Set Photographer

 

Since I started college in September, 2011, I’ve been on over forty different sets for movies, web series and music videos, shooting behind the scenes as a set photographer. Sometimes people are sent to maybe six sets a year. Imagine being on set 10 times in one summer. It just depends on how busy you are.

I didn’t really know what set photography was when I started at Brooks. When I started I wanted to be a Visual Journalist, someone that, among other things, goes to poor cities and countries to shoot stories and show people’s real moments, what is really going on with life. That’s much different than being a set photographer.

The first ever set I was on was called “The Angel Crew.” “The Angel Crew” was looking for someone to take pictures behind the set. I thought that would be fun, but still not thinking really into anything of it. I went to the set, shot for them and it was fun, but it was like “Ok, this is not for me.”

Throughout the sessions I didn’t really shoot set photography I just shot for my class. But during the sessions I started becoming friends with film students and gradually all my friends were film students. One of my friends, Brendan Devaine, was the Director of Photography for a student portfolio called “Issue 57.” I kept asking Devaine if I could be the photographer for set. I think after the fourth time of asking him he allowed me to come on set and shoot. Little did I know that that would be where I would find my true calling.

Being on “Issue 57” I met a lot of wonderful people. I became friends with the camera crew, the grip and electric, art and a few others. After I shot that job, the people on the crew invited me on more of their sets. We became stronger friends and I learned more than I thought I would.

Over the semesters of being on set for the the film students I ended up becoming the set photographer everyone wanted to bring on set. In one summer I was on over 10 sets. It didn’t feel like I was in school. It felt like I was in the industry and it was the greatest thing.

I’ve been at Brooks for three years now, but have been in college for four years in California, shooting sets. The sets have ranged from a three-person set to a 75-person set.

When I’m on set, it’s not a job. It’s not a competition. It’s a place where I can be myself. When I step on that set it’s a place where I’m not feeling judged. It’s where I can be myself. I can shoot what I want. I can feel the set and the vibe that is coming from the set. I know it sounds a little weird but I think set life is one of the most crazy and magical things.

In the film world you have producers, story-makers, director of photographers, lighting crew, grip and electric, directors, art production, make-up, and so many more to name. When I’m shooting on set I try and shoot everything. I want people to know what really goes on behind the scenes. I want to give more credit to the people on the other side of the camera.

A lot of people think that the actors are what make the film, but they’re not. What makes a film is everyone who was part of making the film happen. Being a photographer is great, but being a set photographer is what I was meant to be. I can’t thank the people enough that I’ve worked with over the years.