working on set as a unit photographer for films and television shows in Atlanta, GA, Quantrell Colbert constantly hunts for interesting backstage images. “Most of my work takes place when they’re not blocking [i.e., staging] scenes, so I have a lot of spare time,” the 39-year-old pro photographer explains. “Rather than waste time, I like to get creative.”
On the set of the movie Three Can Play That Game, one of the most interesting shots he got was of feet—specifically, actor Tony Rock's feet, clad in shiny white shoes below a teal-green tuxedo, and standing on teal-green carpeting. Looking at the image later, Colbert realized just how many interesting feet he sees in his line of work. “On certain shows I work on, such as Vampire Diaries or Meet the Browns, you’ll have these characters in footwear that you might not see elsewhere,” says Colbert.
With that idea in mind, he began seeking out shoes to photograph. On-set lighting scenarios made this tricky, because most TV and film sets are dimly lit outside of where the action is being shot. “Movie cameras have something like a 5-stop latitude over my Canon EOS 5D Mark II, so capturing the feet meant looking for shoes when they were positioned under bright light,” Colbert says. And then it was hard to capture the actors standing still.
“Once they call ‘Action,’ everyone’s moving,” Colbert says. “I can’t say, ‘Hey, stop, I’m shooting your feet.’”
Shooting wide-open at the fastest shutter speed he could manage with his 70–200mm f/2.8L IS Canon lens, generally at 1/25 sec and up (thank you, image stabilization), he kept his eyes on the ground and grabbed shots when the lighting and timing were right, playing with frames and angles as he went along. In time, he managed to gather an impressive full series.
“It’s made me more interested in bits and pieces of things outside of their context,” Colbert explains. “When you narrow in on something within a larger frame, you find more interesting details.”
See Quantrell Colbert’s “Feet” series and other work at quantrellcolbert.com.