Shooting a Documentary with stills – the need for a Five Minute Wonder.


Shooting moving image as well as responsibility for production stills always messes with my head, on the one hand the disciplines are similar, indeed lighting and composition are what we stills guys bring to the party.

The images below are shot to compliment the Al Jazeera Correspondent Series documentary “Putting Man on the Moon” and feature some of the key figures of NASA Crew Systems as well as the Astronauts whose life was in their hands. Directed by my good friend Jonathan Richards, the story centres around Caroline Radnofsky, a journalist whose grandfather, Matt Radnofsky was a navigator in a a WW2 B17 bomber. He was injured and thrown out of  the aircraft on a static line only to have all of his safety equipment bar his parachute fail. This inspired him to eventually work for NASA and help design the Apollo space suit.

The documentary was shot over three weeks and in three countries, seven flights (including the B17), ten U.S. states, eight beds… and about 5 minutes to get a decent still for each element of the story. There always going to be compromise when time and baggage allowance is tight – particularly when it comes to lighting – enter the Profoto B2. A light weight compact solution that is fast and powerful meant there was very little to trade off, once my head was in stills mode I was able to think on my feet and get decent lighting to either compliment what was there or in the case of the cover image eliminate the available light all together using High Speed Sync.

The film is not just for the Space geeks, it’s a story of human endeavour and it was a privilege to meet some of people who made it happen.


The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.


Charlie Duke Apollo 16.


Walter Cunningham Apollo 7


Carlos – Barber to the Astronauts.


Caroline with Barbara Radnofsky


Joe McMann  – NASA Crew Systems


Amy Shira Teitel – Vintage Space & Author of Breaking the Chains of Gravity.


Nicholas de Monchaux – Author, Spacesuit Fashioning Apollo.


B17 Flying Fortress


At the Navigators table – B17 Flying Fortress


Jim Lovell – Apollo 8, Apollo 13


Jim Lovell – Apollo 8, Apollo 13


Homer Reihm – ILC Dover


John Scheible – ILC Dover

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