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Stills Camera Expo

Stills photographer Chris Large discussing mirrorless cameras at the Stills Camera Expo afternoon session (Photo credit Sony Canada, Anthony Jones)

Stills photographer Christopher Large discusses mirrorless cameras at the
"Stills Camera Expo" afternoon session (Photo credit Sony Canada, Anthony Jones)

Stills Camera Expo - January 25, 2015

IATSE Local 669, in conjunction with Sony Canada, played host to the recent “Stills Camera Expo” featuring motion picture and stills photographer Chris Large, an accomplished Local 669 member who has over 20+ years experience working on productions including “Fargo 2”,  currently shooting in Calgary, Alberta.  The day was divided into two sessions, one in the morning open to Local 669 members, and the other in the afternoon available to the general public. During each session, Chris shared practical tips and experiences in the field using the latest mirrorless cameras on set.

In Chris’ opinion, one of the immediate benefits of shooting with mirrorless cameras is the elimination the cumbersome blimp.  While useful and an integral part of a stills photographer’s kit thus far, blimps themselves can be unwieldy and may not entirely quash the dreaded, telltale shutter-click of a camera.  By utilizing the latest mirrorless cameras, however, Chris discovered that cameras like “the Sony AS7 [are] quieter than any blimp.  My breathing is louder than my camera.  I haven’t used a blimp in a year!”  On top of being discrete, mirrorless cameras available on the market today are also capable of shooting photos in the most trying of lighting conditions with excellent results even when pumping the ISO, furthering the breadth of opportunities open to stills photographers.

Another advantage Chris found with mirrorless cameras is the positive effect it has had with actors; he has noticed that the “talent like [the mirrorless].  It’s less intimidating and distracting because there’s no blimp and there’s no sound”. When it comes to building trust with actors, Chris strategizes by approaching them with the mindset that “if I ask for thirty seconds, I only need fifteen.  Ten frames, then I'm gone. Be ready, be quick".  Extrapolating more on this subject matter, Chris’ anecdotes about working with actors revealed how integral being prepared and sensitive to their proclivities could mean the difference between a successful shoot, being dismissed from set, or being outright fired.

For instance, some individuals Chris has worked with in the past have demand every single photo be personally approved before being released, while other actors may rehearse fully in character and permit stills to be taken at that time, but outright forbid photography during the actual take.  Some actors, on the other hand, have given Chris complete carte blanche like Billy Bob Thornton did on “Fargo”.  Relating to the audience a humourous encounter with Thornton, Chris recalls asking the actor about his preferences, to which Thornton amicably replied, “I’m an actor. I'll act like you're not there. Go ahead and do your thing".

In terms of reviewing photos taken on set, Chris prefers to print them out at 16”x20” for better scrutiny.  While pixels are important, Chris is determinedly not a self-described “pixel counter” and when it comes to selecting the best image because ultimately "it's not about anything other than telling the story as a stills photographer".  One program that Chris recommends is “Photo Mechanic” ( which has greatly improved his workflow thanks to its editing and organizational capabilities.

After each session, audience members had the additional opportunity to discuss photography with Chris, delve into the nuts and bolts of the Sony mirrorless camera family with Sony Canada representatives Anthony Jones and Beau Partlow, and chat with Mike Mander and Jason Kazuta of Beau Photo Rental House.  Both sessions were well attended, and many thanks are extended to Chris Large, Beau Photo, and Sony Canada for making the “Stills Camera Expo” such a success!

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