The World Wide Lab In A Thousand Frames

It’s been a joy and privilege to photograph the directors and actors of the World Wide Lab once again this year.  I have a unique perspective on their theatrical process and an unlimited freedom to record it photographically. For me it is an unparalleled creative opportunity and also a chance to share with the world the creative whirlwind inside the World Wide Lab

In my photographs I try to convey the relationships among the actors, as well as the interaction between the actors and the directors.  There are six plays in production in this year’s Lab, but to me there are really twelve.  Both on-stage and off-stage are equally compelling stories and thus both are a part of my documentation of the World Wide Lab.

I approach the project knowing nothing of the directors’ plans or concepts or scripts.  I simply watch and listen, and frame-by-frame build a record of their discussions, their exercises, their readings and their performances. The actors are aware of me but I believe quickly tune me out as I am present so continuously.  I can guess that my camera lens may be felt by them as adoring, judgmental, distracting, cold, or affirming.

Photographing the creation of a play has unique challenges.  I must capture the mood of the space as well as human action and interactions. I have no sound to work with, nor the flow of time. The light is either too dim or too harsh. Unlike an audience member, though, I am free to move around the sets and actors, and choose the point of view and point of focus.  I might lie on the ground or place my camera high above. I am constantly in motion with two cameras at the ready, circling the work in progress, trying to find in my viewfinder what I feel in my heart.  Photographing theater is an exhausting, exhilarating spatial and temporal journey. Lab sessions last several hours, and I compose nearly a thousand images per day.

My collected and edited images have been presented on Facebook.  They don’t tell the literal story of a play but at their best convey not just human shapes, motion, and light, but the fleeting feeling contained in a single created moment.

– Tom Henning



This entry was posted on August 31, 2013 by .
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