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Sunnies, sharp suits and shitty rigs: Lighting Massive Wagons
Massive Wagons / Last Support - We started out with everyone quite serious…
Massive Wagons / Last Support – We started out with everyone quite serious…

“So here’s the deal guys,” I said. “This is the Last Supper. Except that Barry is Jesus and he’s cheating at cards.”

That was the setup for one of my favourite group portrait shots, making promo material for Massive Wagons some time last year.

I’d had the image of the Last Supper as a card game in my head (and notebooks) for a while, and when the Wagons boys came to me and asked me to shoot some promo images for them it was one of the first ideas I reached for.

We shot in the basement of The Whiskey Jar — Manchester’s finest* drinking establishment in my opinion — and after a round of fairly normal shots against white seamless we moved on to shoot the big set-piece — lead singer Barry in the position of a card-sharp Christ. How hard could it be?

… presumably this is the point at which the Disciples started to notice something weird…
… presumably this is the point at which the Disciples started to notice something weird…

To light the scene, my assistant Ben and I rigged two lights: a large strip box key over the top of the table, just slightly in front of the band, and a 4 foot octabank behind me, two stops lower in power than the strip light, adding fill.

The hard part was keeping the strip light in place. With only a short boom arm available, and no c-stands to take the weight of the light + strip box at the boom’s full extension, we ended up gaffer taping two light stands together (to add rigidity) and taping the strip box to the ceiling (to… well, I’d love to say to prevent it falling, but mostly it was to give us and the band a sense of security). I wish I’d photographed it at the time, because it was a truly shitty rig.

Massive Wagons
… Five Aces rather gave the game away, though.

I don’t think we actually shot a huge number of frames. The first two in this post were certainly within the first ten or so that we made. The final one, inspired more than slightly by da Vinci’s Last Supper took a bit of arranging — with a photo of the original up on my laptop so that people could get their poses right.

So, not the most artistically accurate bit of imitation — but still one of my favourite shots to date.

*Sinclair’s is good, but they can’t make you a Boulevardier.