Behind the Lens: Insights and Tips from Bradley Patrick, Motion Picture Photographer

By Bradley Patrick

Motion Picture Photographer Bradley Patrick takes us behind the scenes on some of the film and television shows he has captured over his extraordinary 20 plus years behind the camera, from his early days of shooting film to his current system with the Panasonic LUMIX range.

Q: What was your experience like filming on a live set for the first time?

I still remember the first time I ever stepped onto a live set.

I was on an assignment for Entertainment Weekly, a Los Angeles-based magazine, to capture a photographic essay of the feature film “The Quiet American”, directed by Australian filmmaker Phillip Noyce.

Collaborating with A-List talent both in front of and behind the lens, from Academy Award-winning actors Sir Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser to Academy Award-winning executive producers Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, was a career turning point. Witnessing the legendary Michael Caine in action was an unforgettable experience; his patience and commanding presence served as a true masterclass in professionalism.

Along with director Phillip Noyce, Australian cinematographer Christopher Doyle taught me a great deal about how to move on-set without disrupting the actor’s flow. Finding a comfortable spot to kneel or stand, trusting your instincts and mastering the powers of anticipation are crucial. Collaborating with the camera department while ensuring sufficient working space without blocking access to the camera, cast, or crew is essential. Open communication about your needs is key, and if you can quickly achieve your shots, blend into another area on set. Additionally, extreme heat or bitterly cold weather is another challenge you will have to deal with. It’s very important to wear the right clothes and adapt to your surroundings. You may be on set for the entire production (usually in a 3-month stretch) or only required to work a day here or there, depending on the budget and marketing/publicity requirements.

Q: It looks like there are numerous collaborations involved when working as a key art photographer. Any tips on making those collaborations smooth and easy?

Being a unit still/key art photographer in either film or television is always a delicate balance with many moving parts. Forming lasting working relationships with key crew members is crucial. If you can be a friendly, warm person then people will notice that and support you in achieving your goals. Knowing that you are part of a great team of professionals will help building trust between you and the crew. Sharing meals during the shoot, socialising on days off set, finding common interests, building friendships is all about confidence and trust in one another. Maintaining a positive outlook, even in challenging conditions, will always shine through. Creating a collaborative relationship with the actors you photograph is as important as building trust with fellow crew members. You could be lucky enough to work with many cast/crews on numerous projects in the future.

Q: Equipment plays a crucial role in your work. How have you utilised your gear to gain experience and achieve success?

Having completed numerous films and television shows with the LUMIX S1R, I absolutely love the silent shutter capabilities of the cameras. The ability to capture live scene (not just rehearsals) is incredible for storytelling. The colour, skin tones, low light capabilities, image quality, and not to mention the actual weight of the LUMIX systems are taking my work to new heights every day. I recently worked on 2 television series, “The Gloaming” (Stan) & “Deadloch” (Amazon Studios) shooting in the stunning Tasmanian landscape on LUMIX cameras and lenses.

Working on “The Gloaming” over the middle of a Tasmanian winter was quite challenging, but my LUMIX gear consistently delivered. Despite the harsh conditions of extreme cold, wind, rain, and fluctuating temperatures, the equipment held up well. As you can see from the images below, the range of focal lengths and low light capabilities truly stood out.

Shot with LUMIX S1R and 70-200mm F2.8 lens

Shot with LUMIX S1R and 70-200mm F2.8 lens

Throughout the entire three-month shooting period, the battery capacity proved impressive even after 10-hour shooting days. Working with gear that can handle all weather conditions gives you a great sense of calmness especially on rain-soaked days.

Shot with LUMIX S1R and 70-200mm F2.8 lens

The Amazon series “Deadloch” also shot in Tasmania, fortunately not during winter, was a great example of teamwork from the cast & crew. Most of the crew had worked together on previous projects. Having the right balance of local knowledge was wonderful for younger cast & crew, making everyone feel like integral parts of a cohesive team.

Shot on LUMIX S1R and 24-70mm F2.8 lens

We shot in the towns of Cygnet and Kingston. The stunning beach locations in Kingston provided a picturesque backdrop for landscape photography. Meanwhile, the quaint cafes and galleries in the small-town of Cygnet served as ideal settings for this unique show. The collective effort and the synergy between the team members, coupled with the unique charm of our chosen locations, added an extra layer of richness to the production.

Shot on LUMIX S1R and 70-200mm F4 lens

Stay tuned for exciting updates as I have several productions in 2024 and 2025, pushing the boundaries with the latest Panasonic gear.