Film stills photographer Aidan Monaghan discusses the challenges of capturing a movie in a single frame


posted Wednesday, August 24, 2016 at 12:30 PM EST


For a recent episode of Adorama TV's "Out of the Darkroom with Ruth Medjber," Medjber spoke with film stills photographer Aidan Monaghan. Monaghan is a self-taught photographer with a background in architecture, and he thinks the two disciplines share very similar core values with one another. In an interesting crossover, he moved from architecture to architectural photography and then to working with playwrights in Belfast, Ireland to document their theatre work. After making the decision in 2009 to move to photography full-time, the experience with theatre allowed Monaghan to transition into shooting film stills, the type of work where he has made his name in the photography world, including recent credits for Ridley Scott's "The Martian."

In the first video below, Monaghan discusses his background and his first photographic experiences on set. There's a challenge associated with trying to capture the essence of a movie in a single frame, but that's what Monaghan is faced with on set. Not only does he have to try to distill the movie, but he has to work to capture an image that'll sell the film. All of this while everyone else is busy creating the movie itself, of course, so documenting without disrupting is important. To help him, he always reads scripts to get an understanding of the movie which will inform which shots he wants to make sure to capture.

Beyond getting documentary-style shots of a movie's creation, Monaghan has to capture the poster image. If you consider your memories of your favorite movies, I'm sure you'll recognize the importance of the poster shot. It can be the public's first impression of a film and making a good first impression can make or break a movie. You can watch the two videos below with the second video focusing on Aidan Monaghan's experience shooting on the sets of "The Martian" and "High-Rise."

To see more of Aidan Monaghan's work, visit his website and follow him on Instagram.

(Seen via DIY Photography)