Bradley Patrick claims that he knew that he wanted to become a photographer the minute he first stepped into a dark room. Today, he is known throughout his homeland Australia for his timeless portraits of movie stars.
“My mantra is: it doesn’t matter what you shoot, as long as you’re engaged in what you’re shooting,” says Bradley. “Regardless of whether you’re a landscape photographer or you’re shooting polar bears or a bowl of fruit, you have to be engaged in your subject. In my case, I shoot people. This means that I have to do my research, so that I have a sense of familiarity when I meet the person. If you know a thing or two about them, you can have a real conversation rather than just talking about the weather, and that will come through in your picture.”
“I also think it’s important to prepare the set so that it relates to who you’re shooting and the story they have to tell. When the actor arrives at the set, they should be able to immediately get into that mood you’re looking for. For instance, I recently completed a shoot with Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. For obvious reasons, I had a very limited amount of time to get my shot. I had to bring my gear to their hotel, and when they eventually came down to the shoot, I’d already set the lights in a way that reflected the mood I was after. I had also prepared all the backgrounds and I was playing music that enhanced the mood I wanted to recreate.”
What mood were you looking for?
“As I said before, I always do my research. In this case, I had the opportunity to see the movie they were promoting: Love and other drugs. So, I knew the story and I set my lights accordingly. I also took the time to buy them both a gift. I wanted to give them something personal that they could always take with them, so I bought them a couple of CDs by some Australian artists. This was also the music I was playing on the set, and I believe this created a certain intimate feeling. As it turned out, they loved the music! In fact, Anne Hathaway made a point of coming up to me at the premiere in a room with 500 people to thank me personally. She said that she had been listening to that CD all day long in her limousine, which, of course, was a very nice thing to hear.”
What about the image? Were they happy with the result?
“They were very happy. Their publicist was too, which is just as important. There are more jobs down the road, so you always need to do your best and bring your best game to the set. Anyway, they ended up using the image all over the world, which I guess is as good a compliment as you can get.”
How did you light it to enhance the mood you were after?
“Well, I wanted to portray a relaxed sense of fun and I wanted clean lighting, because even though Love and other drugs is a quite moody romantic comedy, there is a bright tone and feel to it. So, I used two Profoto Compact 600 monolights equipped with Softbox 5’ Octas to create that sort of soft, bright, clean light.”
You’re using the old Profoto ComPacts?
“Yes. In fact, I tried the new D1 monolights just the other day, and I’ll definitely get a pair of those pretty soon. The only problem is that even though my ComPacts are more than ten years old, they refuse to break down!”
See more of Bradley’s work at his website.
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