Behind the Scenes of Photographing Dan Savage’s Queens of Intiman Theatre


If you have not seen the post: “44 Minutes with the Queens” you should do that now so you know what this post is about.


The evening before the shoot, Michae Place  and I met behind Intiman Theatre just after his character, Mercutio, died onstage.  Even though it was a quiet summer afternoon, I could still hear the other actors inside the theatre continuing out the rest of Romeo and Juliet.  Micky and I quickly ran through what would be a quick, spontaneous, shoot for the next afternoon:

  • We would shoot on location outside the theatre where he could be in his drag character, “Sissy” in Dan Savage’s “Miracle!
  • I’d get there a little after noon and he would be ready in costume designed by Erik Andor at approximately 1:15
  • We could shoot from 1:20-1:40
  • Wrap and he would go perform in the matinee
  • I would go home and take a Sunday afternoon nap
Here’s what really went down:
  • 11:30 I sent him a text asking if I should address him by his real or stage name on the set (he replied “Sissy!!!”)
  • He texted that “Gloria”, “Helen” and “Baily” would be joining us (I replied “Oooohhh yay!!!”)
  • 12:00 I arrived to our scouted location (in front of Seattle Repertory Theatre) to see Shane Eubank and his 1972  Corvette Stingray already there.  I learned that Shane is also very talented with a camera and he shot a ton of behind the scenes shots for me here (thank you Shane!).
  • Ian Spiers arrived with a ton of lighting gear, Don Pham and Melissa Fry arrived to assist in whatever what would go down during the shoot (and we really didn’t know what to expect as our set just went from 1 to 4 actors in drag).
  • We moved the car in place.  Ian and the team started on lighting: Paul C. Buff: The White Lightning™ X1600 Flash Unit with Westcott Soft Silver UmbrellaPocket Wizard and Large 72″ x 72″ Scrim Jim Kit.
  • I got my gear situated in my Think Tank Photo Airport 4-Slight and sent a photo of the car to the “ladies” letting them know we were there.
  • 12:50 Micky texted letting me know they were almost ready. Ah-ha! Ahead of schedule, awesome for me, more time to shoot!
  • I walked to the back of the theatre and was allowed into the sacred dressing room where I got to see Drew Highlands transform into “Baily”,  Timothy McCuen Piggee  already completely in character “Gloria” (and oh-so-tall in those heels!), Jonathon Pyburn  “Helen Stellar” delicately putting on finishing touches and  Burton Curtis “Crystal Pain” quickly getting ready to dash over and join us in the shoot. Up to 5!
  • 1:04 The 4 ladies and I walked from the theatre in the bright sun over to the set (my “44 Minutes” starts with the first candid walking shot).
  • 1:06 Final lighting test shots.
  • 1:09 I got the ladies in place around the car and captured a few natural light images.
  • 1:14 lighting tests were complete and the first official shot with the car was taken.
  • 1:15 a huge crowd was gathered around us and up on the street.
  • 1:17 Re-set the light for individual portraits against the red background.
  • 1:22 Burton Curtis “Crystal Pain” and Hannah Victoria Franklin “Annie Sullivan” arrived in costume. Up to 6!
  • 1:24 Two police officers came by at different times, watched, laughed and went about their day.
  • 1:32 Re-set the light on the car for a solo portrait of “Sissy” sitting on the car.
  • 1:34 The last shot of the  first four queens was taken and they went back to the theatre to start the play.
  • 1:36 Shane re-set the car.
  • 1:38 The first image of “Crystal” and “Annie” was taken with the car.
  • 1:43 Re-set the light for individual portraits on the red background again.
  • 1:48 Last image of “Annie” was taken (my “44 Minutes” ends with the last shot).
  • 1:49 Hannah “Annie” looked at the back of the camera and approved her images.
  • 1:50 The last two actors dashed back to the theatre to start the 2:00 matinee.
  • 1:57 Took a photo of Shane with his awesome car.
  • 1:59 Finished shooting Shane.
  • 2:00 WRAP!
And that’s how I photographed the Queens of Dan Savage’s “Miracle!


Shane’s 1972 Corvette Stingray in place


My Think Tank Photo Airport 4-Slight ready to go for me!


The first image behind the theatre was taken

Our walk to the set

Hey Ladies!!! (light tests)


Instructing “Helen” how I’d like her to lean on the car


Adjusting the “Butterfly”  costume designed by Erik Andor, Shane getting a BTS shot, Ian making sure our lighting was rad

Individual portraits with the The White Lightning™ X1600 Flash UnitWestcott Soft Silver UmbrellaPocket Wizard and Large 72″ x 72″ Scrim Jim Kit.



Me waving good-bye to a couple of the actors

Showing Hannah her gorgeous self / Instructing “Gloria” how I would like her to hold her body


Photographing “Crystal” and “Annie”


Overall shot of our set (thank you Shane!)


LAST NIGHT to go see Dan Savage’s  Queens in “Miracle!” at Intiman Theatre

Dan Savage’s Queens from Miracle! have ONE FINAL performances at Intiman Theatre TONIGHT!


Photography details

Main (LaRae): Nikon D700
BTS (Shane): Nikon D200
BTS (Melissa): iPhone 4S

Lens Main: Nikon 18-70mm 3.5 – Aperture: f/5.6 – Shutter: 1/200 – ISO: 200
Lens BTS: Nikon 13-24mm 4.0 – Aperture: 8.0 – Shutter 1/200 – ISO: 400

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