Updated: Mar 18
I’m delighted to share this blog post, not only as it is my first, but also as it marks the release of the artwork and poster for Tom Hartwell’s new play “Ball Pit”. It is always a pleasure to work with Tom on his projects, he is a very talented writer and is always humorous and creative in his idea briefs which excites me as a photographer. I have written about my previous work with Tom on his production “Before 30” here.
He first approached me about this production when looking to create a graphic to be used as a placeholder for the theatres website until the full marketing materials had been put together. He was very clear on the idea of a hand reaching up and out of a ball pit- the ball pit being very symbolic to the context of the play and will actually make up the stage and set of the show that the actors shall perform in in a superb unique creation by Justin Williams Design. Using stock images I first created a placeholder image for the venues website.
Fast forward a few weeks and we find ourselves at Ballie Ballerson Soho, London, for the photoshoot recreating the image to use as part of the poster design. I never imagined working in such an environment and I had planned exactly how I wanted to shoot the image to capture the tone for the poster, however found myself laying awake the night before wondering how I would manage to setup lighting stands for my flashes in what Is essentially a very unlevelled surface of a ball pit! Thankfully with other cast members to hand and Tom himself, we managed to work together to hold the lights and modifiers in place.
The final image was lit with a 4ft parabolic with a Yongnuo YN200 flash in as a key from off camera right to cast a mysterious shadow across one side of the hand and arm. We then added a Yongnuo YN560III in a gridded reflector from the opposite direction behind the hand to create a rim light and create some highlights and shape across the balls. As you can see from below, the balls in the pit were transparent and were lit with coloured LEDs underneath. As I set the shutter speed to cut out any ambient light, the colour of the LED no longer showed in the image leaving us with a versatile image that we could enhance in photoshop in production of the poster.
I experimented with several styles for the poster in post production, sending Tom various colour palettes settling on pastel colours that best created a sense of innocence that would then contrast with the darkness of the shadows. We also experimented with colouring some of the balls and all the balls to see what best gave us the look we were after. To complete the image I added heavy shadows to keep focus on the centre of the image where the hand emerges out of the surface.