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The best time to shoot a theatrical production is the dress rehearsal, you can have more access than you would during the actual show and you don’t have to worry about annoying the audience. Here are a few tips to get dramatic shots:

1) Get to know the play. Listening in on briefings and cast meetings will give you a good idea of what happens in the play and when. It will also help you determine the best positions to photograph the action.

2) Get close to the action. Take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to worry about blocking the audience’s view, but show respect to the actors by turning off camera sounds and flash.

3) Capture the mood. As the actors become more accustomed to your presence, you can move around more freely. Concentrate on capturing the atmosphere, mood, and drama.

4) Be aware of surroundings. You may want to include the venue in your compositions, especially if it’s a photogenic location, since that will provide the most effective background to your shots.

Technical tips: Force your flash off and use a high ISO. Use a medium-long telephoto lens and auto-exposure so you can shoot rapidly.
(Photos by Photographer of the Year Marc Aviles)

Adapted from How To Photograph Absolutely Everything: Successful Pictures From Your Digital Camera by Tom Ang (DK Publishing, 2007, $40)