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Making a Poster for a High School Play Part 1

Poster for Alice in Wonderland

I have had enough photographers ask me about this I decided to do a blog post about it. First. Why bother doing this? I am pretty new to the area and I wanted to create a buzz about my High School Senior photo business. if you would like to visit. I have a friend that is the drama teacher at a local High School and I asker her if she would let me photograph some posters and then get some free advertising plus the buzz I'll create if I do a good job. I have done 3 posters now and they have done exactly what I had hoped. Here are the 1st two that I shot.

So on to Alice in Wonderland & Back Again...

The first thing I do is go out to the web and look at some of the imagery that has been created. I found a few images that seemed pretty cool but one stood out to me. It was a promo for the TV movie back in 1985:

Alice in Wonderland from TV show in 1985

This gave me the idea to have Alice going around a big mushroom. This past summer I had photographed a "set" consisting of plants I bought at Home Depot and a lot of dirt. It is for an photographic series that I am currently working on based on what is below us. To read more about that take a look at my other site. I Wanna Photograph You. Here is the blog post containing one of those images.

I had a little success with that shoot and though I could do something like that again.

What I needed:

1. Home Depot - for strange plants. What I bought here.

2. Michaels - Moss and a fake tree and green styrofoam.

3. Whole Foods - Exotic mushrooms. Yummy

That's about it.

The first thing I did was schedule some time to photograph the actors at the high school. My wife and I met up with the students right after school. My wife does the makeup for me. (I'm lucky)

I had a sketch drawn out already so I knew what I was going to do. Preplanning or storyboarding is essential to make things go fast. I am able to shoot quickly. Here is the sketch I used. (such the artist. lol)

Sketch for poster. With Hatter and Alice in environment and Queen looking over in the clouds

Lets take a look at the actual shots.  The first was of the Mad Hatter. We just went outside with a couple of other students and I had him lean up against a brick wall of the high school. Here is a screenshot from Lightroom of the raw file.

Mad Hatter lit with a speedlight in the back and a AB800 with grid strip box in front.

For the next shot of Alice I had a student hold a trash can to act as the mushroom stalk that she would be running around. I wanted her running because the wig she was wearing was very plain and I thought some movement would spice up the image.

Alice running. One speedlight as rim light in back and the AB 800 with strip-box as main light

The final shot was of the Queen of Hearts. This was basically a beauty shot since the image would feature mostly her face in the clouds. Again I just ran outside and found an empty part of sky and shot into it. I switched lenses from the 50mm to a 70-200. We added a beauty dish as the main light and a silver reflector underneath her to even out shadows.

The Queen of Hearts basic shot. One light and a reflector that the Mad Hatter is holding. See his arm in the shot.

Next up was to get the set built and hope that the actors would be easy to cut out. I went ahead and cut out Alice and the Mad Hatter and positioned them with some screen shots from the web. I went out and found a mushroom and a playing card. (I ended up using the playing card because it was so cool looking. I printed it out and made a card out of it.) The background is a photo of some trees I shot a long time ago.

I was pretty happy with the way they cut out and I was excited to put the set together.

I just set up in front of an open front door and I put my 580 flash outside to act as the backlight. To light the main area I got a AB800 and just put a 20 degree grid on the reflector and pointed down at the set.

Unfortunately I do not own a macro lens and I think that would have come in handy. I tried shooting with a 50mm a 70-200 and ultimatly went with the 17-40 so I could "get into" the set.

Above shot of the set in the hallway.

My son holding up the dry erase board.

Trying out a different point of view, different lens

Trying different angles and perspectives with lenses

The perspective I liked and trying out the scale of the actors


Poster for Alice in Wonderland

I'll talk about how I put it all together in the next post. Let mw know your thoughts on this and these kind of posts.
ChristineJanuary 27, 2013 - 6:45 pm

This was fun to see the step by step. I, too, have done a lot of similar publicity shoots for our high school and regional theatre companies. It is fun to shake up the day to day business of photography with something different like this.

I look forward to seeing your next!

DanJanuary 27, 2013 - 7:04 pm

Kick butt, especially the tiny set!

Heather ColeJanuary 27, 2013 - 8:31 pm

This is beyond amazing. I was in awe how you did this and the finished product is a true masterpiece. Bravo!!

ChuckieJanuary 27, 2013 - 8:37 pm

Thank you. It’s really not that big of a deal. Just preplanning, makes all the difference in the world.

ChuckieJanuary 27, 2013 - 8:38 pm


TonjaJanuary 27, 2013 - 9:59 pm

Brilliant work as usual! Thanks for sharing I was wondering!

Elena HernandezJanuary 28, 2013 - 1:31 am

Beautifully photographed and executed! Love that you did a storyboard idea first then implemented your idea. It cuts down on wasted time of trying to think of something on the fly when you have a game plan to begin with…Thank you Chuckie for sharing!
The piece came out fabulous!

jkheigle@excite.comJanuary 28, 2013 - 5:52 am


Once again, you’ve gone over the top with excellence, and you are an inspiration. Do you mind if I use this as an assignment in my digital class???

Well done!

ChuckieJanuary 28, 2013 - 5:55 am

Not at all, should be fun. I could demo something like this.

Nick VerbenecJanuary 30, 2013 - 3:54 pm

Great write-up on the behind the scenes on how you did this poster. I really enjoy looking at all of you work. Its all very inspirational. If you ever need an intern to lug your lights around for a day or be a VALS, Id love to be a fly on the wall of one of your shoots.

Las Vegas Hot Sexy Light Shoot. March 12 2013


$45 - MARCH 12. Tuesday during WPPI at MGM Grand

REGISTER HERE - Only 10 spots available.

WPPI is right around the corner and I love hosting mini shoot clinincs. This year we are going to concentrate on only the sexier side of shooting. In the 2 hrs I will talk about:
  • Making a subject feel comfortable
  • Posing in a fashion style
  • Lighting with flash and video lights
  • Composition (adding depth to your image)
  • Taking any questions you might have
The cost is only $45 PLACE: MGM GRAND. Email will be sent out with room number. TIME: 4pm-6ish DATE: March 12 2013 The limit is 10 attendees.

Thank you to our sponser :

Promo Video from last time:



WPPI – My Platform Class

When I became a wedding/portrait photographer in 2002 after a few years as a commercial and art photographer I went to a conference called WPPI. I needed to learn about the business and how to be successful  in this new type of photography for me and how to run a business. Holy crap did I get a lot out of that first year. I met some of my best friends in the industry and came back to Nashville with a renewed aggressive attitude. It worked. I took what I learned and started to define my wedding/portrait biz in Nashville. Thank you WPPI. It was also there that I learned about print competition. I entered and was pleasantly surprised that I did pretty well and won a bunch of Accolades and even took  away a award for a senior image. Somehow I ended up lecturing and teaching workshops but I never in the 7 years of going to WPPI had spoke at that conference. This year I am! I am so excited to be presenting a platform class. It will be Sunday March 10th from 12:00 to 1:30. I would be honered if you would pre register for my class if you will be attending this year. If you are not going. GO. It is an amazing experience and is worth the trip. REGISTER HERE:  

Search for my class here:

I'm not going to just give a presentation I'm going to give a college like class. I want you to learn something as well as be inspired. We are going to go over as much lighting tips as I can cram into  90 min.

Afterwords I'm going to lead a small workshop on Off Camera Lighting on location. Something I can't do on stage is take you all outside to put these tips into practice. I hope to take those who want to join me outside for about an hour and show you real life examples of my style of photographing.

Leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions on something you want to hear about. Hope to see you all there.

Heidi G.March 1, 2013 - 8:01 pm

SO looking forward to your class! :)

Technology to Keep You on the TrainMarch 21, 2013 - 11:25 pm

Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely great. Technology to Keep You on the Train

My kids are on the cover of Rangefinder!

Let me tell you how excited I was when Rangefinder magazine asked me to do an article on lighting. It is such an honor to be in a photography magazine. Then they asked me to submit some images to be in consideration of the cover! I was really surprised and excited. The coolest thing ever tough was when they chose one of my photos and to top it off it was a shot of my son and daughter. In fact, I stopped being excited about photographing the cover and was more excited to see a pic of my kids. I just want to thank Rangefinder for asking me and then choosing the image. Such an honor. Anyone can go read the magazine here. LINK TO RANGEFINDER ONLINE JANUARY 2013 ISSUE It is the lighting issue and has a bunch of great info on lighting for photography. Happy new year!    
Lucia De GiovanniJanuary 15, 2013 - 4:41 pm

This portrait is flawless. Channeling their inner rock stars, you’re allowing your kids to simply shine in it. GREAT work, and congratulations on the cover!

ChuckieJanuary 15, 2013 - 6:15 pm

Thank you. Love your work.