Photographing Magic of the Musicals from Spotlight Productions

The end of 2021 was tinged with some sadness as Bethany Heath and I undertook our last photography assignment for youth theatre Spotlight Productions. We took photos of their Christmas ‘Magic of the Musicals’ production. We have supported Spotlight in different ways since 2014, when we photographed the dress rehearsal of Les Misérables (photo shown below). As well as photographing shows free of charge, I developed and donated the new Spotlight Productions website after the previous website fell victim to hackers.

Bethany and I took photographs at the dress rehearsal in the Performing Arts Centre in Huntingdon. We are delighted that the sell-out performances were watched by full audiences on the 18th and 19th December 2021, with well-deserved standing ovations given on both evenings. Well done to Graham and Sarah Wilkinson, the performers and everyone involved. It was an amazing show and a great team effort.

I always enjoy the challenge of stage photography because light levels are generally low so noise (which I do not like) can be a significant problem. With light levels changing quickly, I shoot shows with Manual exposure, constantly trying to balance ISO (with higher ISOs leading to more noise) and shutter speeds (with slower shutter speeds risking motion blur). Stage photography is technically challenging and the very best lenses (with large apertures to let the maximum amount of light in) provide the most flexibility. Beyond the technical challenges, there are the artistic challenges of capturing the stories and action.

This was the first Spotlight show to be photographed entirely using the very latest Sony cameras and lenses, including the Sony A1 camera and Sony 50mm F1.2 GM and Sony 70-200mm F2.8 OSS GM lenses. With stage lighting, the images coming from the camera sensor never match what is seen by the human eye, so post-processing is always necessary and highly time-intensive (usually taking several days). It is always a huge relief when the process is completed and I can return to the real world.

While images are optimised for display on large high-resolution screens (such as my 5k iMac Pro display or 8k displays), I recognise that the vast majority of people will be viewing the published images on small low-resolution mobile phone screens. My focus is always to record things and people for posterity in as high a resolution as possible. While many people will initially view images on low-resolution mobile devices, devices in 10 to 20 years will be much better. I hope my images stand the test of time.

To view the photos, visit:

Magic of the Musicals Photo Gallery | Mark Heath Photography

I really enjoy my time with Graham and Sarah Wilkinson and the Spotlight team. I’ve always got a buzz seeing how excited members of the cast get seeing their photos and changing their profile pictures on Facebook. However, all good things come to an end and it is time to allow younger members to step forward to capture future amazing shows.

You can view our photographs from the various shows by clicking on the following photo galleries:

Magic of the Musicals 2021 Gallery

Sister Act 2018 Gallery

Legally Blonde 2017 Gallery

Sister Act in Spaldwick Church 2017 Gallery

Disco Inferno 2016 Gallery

Singin’ in the Rain 2015 Gallery

Les Misérables 2014 Gallery