By Junsui Films | August 2011
Movie stills photographer, Kimberley French, takes a break from the set of her latest film to talk exclusively to Junsui Films…
Junsui Films: How did you become involved in movie stills photography?
Kimberley French: A director friend suggested I look into still photography at the time I didn’t know that the job existed. I always assumed that the set photos were frame grabs. I then went to film school with the intention of becoming a camera operator, or a still photographer.
Phil Hersee came in to tell us about his job as a stills photographer. I found it very interesting so I apprenticed with him for a couple of years, and assisted a few others. Then I went out on my own and worked on many independent feature films and had a blast. It is a challenging yet very rewarding job. I love it.
JF: Describe a typical day on set for a stills photographer…
You are on set for the whole day while working on a feature film, generally 12 hours a day, photographing the actors acting in the scenes, some behind the scenes: photos of the director, director of photography, and actors interacting. Sometimes there will be some prop or set decorating photos to make. Once or twice a film there will be “special” or “gallery” shoots for the poster or other advertising purposes.
Brokeback Mountain – Behind The Scenes – Kimberley French- Focus Pictures-Universal ©
JF: Your poster work includes everything from Brokeback Mountain to Red Riding Hood. What would you consider your best achievement to date?
That I am still hired to do the job I love. It’s very competitive. There are only a few big feature films being shot in Vancouver at one time. There are over 40 stills photographers in the union in Vancouver, and many others on their way. Every film is an achievement. It’s very hard work physically, to be shooting all day for 12 hours a day for three to four months at a time. It’s not at all as glamorous as one might think. Imagine shooting at -30 on top of a mountain with 70 mile an hour driving snow and wind. Or being under a rain tower (like buckets of water being dropped on you) at three am on a cold night trying to keep your camera dry!
JF: You have photographed some of Hollywood’s leading stars – Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt and Amanda Seyfried to name but a few. Who has been your favourite subject to shoot and why?
Honestly, all of them. They all have amazing talent. I am honoured to work with such great people. Every face is a universe to discover.
JF: Any future plans you can tell us about?
I loved working with Focus Features, and I hope that I have the opportunity to work with them again. I was in Paris to shoot a dramatic commercial in the spring, and I hope to connect with more production companies that do that sort of work. I’m always up for independent films, especially drama.