Harlan reflects on some of his favorite theatre photos including August Wilson’s Two Trains Running;Tina: The Tina Turner Musical; and more.
By nature, theatre is ephemeral. But with production photography, a show can last long after it has closed and reach audiences far beyond the auditorium. With so many moments to capture, in just a few images theatre photography not only immortalizes the artistry behind a show, but also helps to solidify the identity for an entire production for years to come. Playbill caught up with London-based theatre photographer Manuel Harlan about why he loves creating production photography, his favorite memories behind his shots, and what he looks for in creating a great image.
"Without doubt, what I love most about being a theatre photographer is simply the unbeatable thrill of witnessing a story unfolding, live, right before my eyes. Strangely, having the added task of documenting that story photographically creates a level of involvement and immersion that I can’t match when I go back to see a show solely as an audience member. At the end of a shoot, people often ask me what I thought, adding, 'You must have been so busy taking photos you probably didn’t take in much of the play.' Actually, the opposite is true: I often find that my best photos come when I’m listening and concentrating so intensely that I’m barely aware I’m taking pictures. I find that imposing my own preconceived ideas or plans rarely works—I prefer to try to be open and present and allow the play to work its magic on me."
Check out Harlan’s favorite photos as he reflects on his experience creating them.
Check Out London-Based Theatre Photographer Manuel Harlan’s 16 Favorite Production Shots