Getting Caught on Location

By Ariniko O'Meara
Posted May 22, 2017   |   Previous Entry

For over a year I have been the exclusive photographer for River Walk Theatre, a downtown Lansing hot spot. I've enjoyed taking the publicity photos of productions like RENT, GREASE, The Princess Who Saved Herself, Superior Donuts and many, many other amazing plays. The publicity images are taken before the play goes live to help promote ticket sales. Each production has different requests. Some are more simple shoots and some are a bit more elaborate. The next production opening in June is Catch Me if You Can. I received an email from the director and producer politely asking if I would mind going on location for these publicity shots. They ran their ideas past me and I was eager to participate. The first idea was shooting on location at McLaren Hospital in Lansing.

The setting of this play is 1960's and the costumes match this time frame. As I waited inside the hospital on Tuesday groups of young ladies dressed in bright white, vintage nurses costumes started entering the hospital causing quite a stir, especially from the present day nurses. When all had arrived we were ushered up to a floor where there was a whole wing prepped as a functioning hospital, but not being used. We quickly moved into scenes with the director moving the actors into their roles and I suggesting better lighting. After climbing up into the hospital room window I took their first publicity shot.

We didn't stay long at the hospital, maybe 30 minutes total. It's always great to work with a group that knows what it wants before hand, can set the scene quickly, and produce the look needed. I have been greatly impressed by the professionalism and artistic savvy Riverwalk Theatre actors bring to their shows. After leaving the hospital we then drove to the theater and produced a few more staged shots and all the lobby shots. Each actor, designer and stage hand gets their head shot taken for the promotional poster created for each production.

On Thursday I once again met up with Michele Booher-Purosky and Jane Falion and the actors. Our location this time was at Capital Region International Airport which had graciously agreed to let us shoot on location. The actresses were all dressed in bright blue 1960's stewardess outfits and Brian Farnham, who plays Frank Abagnale, Jr., was perfectly adorned in his Captain's uniform. The group brought attention from everyone we passed, including a gentleman who asked, "What airliner are you with?" to which all the actresses responded, as if rehearsed, "Pan-Am!". The giddy excitement for this shoot was palatable. The hopeful conclusion of this location was heading outside and actually shooting on the tarmac by a plane. Nichole, our guide and security clearance, was willing to try but wasn't confident since the wind was gusting at a pretty good clip. When all of our party was together we were led to a back area stairwell. There was an escalator and really nothing else. We had the whole area to ourselves and soon we were posing on the stairs, on the escalator, in front of the window and walking down the hallway.

We worked quickly despite doing action shots multiple times so video could be made and sent directly to social media. It was fun and lighthearted and it easily came across onto the images.

Nichole then took us to a lounge area, where again we were the only ones there. From there we filed into the food court. Here a crowd was hanging out and eagerly accommodated our entourage as we moved into position at the bar. A quick pose here and it was time to go outside.

We loaded into two vehicles and headed towards our next location. As we drove around the airport, our guide communicating with security, led us around the airport to another gate a few minutes away from the main entrance. After we got security clearance the gate opened and we drove onto a highly guarded area on the tarmac with a huge plane parked feet away from us.

We quickly found that the wind was in fact going to be an issue as bright blue stewardess hats immediately started tumbling off heads and flew towards the plane. We ditched the hats and walked towards the plane to get into position. Given that this plane had a prominent logo painted on it we had to select angles that prevented me from catching the logo in any photograph. Luckily we still had multiple options. We attempted to wait out wind gusts, which seemed to stir each time I counted 1-2-3, but it never really did die down. We just went with it. Hopefully the tussled hair and flirty skirt flips play into the imagery.

I posed them at the nose and at the wing. We took selfies (they laughed that I took a selfie too) and each wore the "Captain's hat" in an individual pose. It was so much fun! I had found out earlier that one of the actresses was the daughter of two friends I went to high school school with and another was married to someone I knew through volunteering at TEDxLansing and Ignite. The small town connections always seem to pile up the more I meet people and it makes each friendship more special. We didn't stay long on the tarmac as another plane was arriving and they didn't want us out there when that happened. We gathered back into our cars and headed back to the front entrance to drop off me and Nichole.

After I was dropped off and thanked profusely for accommodating their crazy publicity shoot, I drove back home to begin editing an amazing set of images.

Catch Me if You Can will be playing at Riverwalk Theatre from June 8-June 18. You can find tickets here.