I had the pleasure of being tasked with shooting a portrait of Hugo Weaving for a Time Out feature recently.
I love him as an actor, always full of charisma and spark, whether playing a flamboyant drag queen or a menacing villain. I’m not often that nervous before a portrait shoot, but this one I was somewhat anxious about.
This feature was about his coming role as Macbeth for Sydney Theatre Company – so menace was the mood required.
As usual with these things, time is limited, so I arrived early to set up and do some tests.
I had a rehearsal room to play with, so set up a few lights in a way that I thought could convey the darkness of the play. Macbeth is full of murder and bloodletting, so I also experimented with a red gel for some frames.
Hugo arrived promptly at 10am and we moved quickly through a series of set-ups I planned. He’s got such great presence, after the first frame my anxiety dissipated as I could see the feeling I was hoping for.
I moved on from the lit set-up to a nearby window for a different feel.
Then we wrapped up with a final set-up in a stairwell, lit with my Canon speedlites.
Looking back at the timestamp on the photos I see it was just 11 minutes from first to last frame. It was a very efficient shoot, and like a lot of the high-profile people i’ve shot I felt a general “we all know i’m not enjoying this but i’ll suck it up and give you what you need” attitude from Hugo Weaving. Which is just fine with me, it’s refreshing to shoot someone who just rolls with what you ask and nails the brief bang on.