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SHERYL NIELDS:MOTION,MOTION,MOTION


celebrities, including actorsAdrien Brody, Ben Stiller and Orlando Bloom. The list of musicians that have stood before her camera includes Prince, Foo Fighters and Beck, and then there are actresses such as EvaMendes, Rosario Dawson andMila Kunis. It was her video of Kunis for Empire magazine that first caught my attention, for its intrigue and energy, which Nields is well known for among her colleagues. “I am notorious for moving on my shoots. I am


the person that will set up lights and my assistants will be like, ‘This is great.’Then I’ll turn around and shoot straight into the lights. I like to be able to walk around a room and see what happens. For me a set-up is just a jumping off point. I am very technical.With ad jobs it’s different, but with general work like press, PR, editorial, album packages, you have this loose idea of where you want to go. However, the magic really happens when the two creatives involved get together and the combined energy goes to the next place. If I was staying on a mark and stuck with one thing in my head I probably wouldn’t be able to access this next level.” Working in LosAngeles requires a particular


mindset for a photographer. Every city has its idiosyncrasies when it comes to the type of work being shot there. In the City ofAngels, however, the industry must deal with celebrity and all that brings; which first and foremost for Nields is a lack of time. “Celebrities are always jamming 4,000 things into their schedules, so time is usually short. If I do an ad job I can wait and then all of a sudden it’s a go.With Charlize [Theron] for example, I sat in Berlin waiting nine days for her. It wasn’t a bad place to sit around, don’t get me wrong, but after those nine days I had just 45 minutes to make 12 shots, ranging from eyescapes to using full Plexiglas cities I had built. But those are the requirements that get laid on you; you have to be able to think and move quickly and not be shaken by it.” Working as a commercial photographer for


several years prepared her for this fast pace. “I was raised on a hardcore diet of, ‘Get it! Twelve shots in two minutes – go!’” she says. “This means that


even when I have somebody that has been in front of a camera for 60 years and doesn’t want to be photographed and only gives you four minutes, I am used to it. It doesn’t scare me at all. In fact, I tend to get along with the bigger or more difficult personalities because I respond well to people that know what they want.” I wonder if when shooting moving images


Nields has more time, but she does not. “It’s the same sort of thing,” she says. “All of the work I have done has been right on the back of, if not at the same time, as the stills; where I’ll put my stills camera down and pick up a motion camera. It’s never really been a separate day. The motion is usually scripted out in a sense that I will have an idea of shots and clips I need to make the client’s request work, and then I always do what I want to do after that. For the Kunis shoot I had just five hours for hair and make-up, styling of four or five clothing changes and the film to shoot.” A surprise revelation to me is that Nields


regularly recruits a director of photography for her video work. I ask why a photographer with her level of experience would need someone to oversee lighting and camera work for her. “Well I don’t want to have to always crawl around with my underwear hanging out of my pants looking like a crazy person with scraped knees and bloody elbows. I want to be the one shouting, ‘Do this. Do that!’” she replies. “No seriously, this work requires a special keen of focusing ability which I have lost after some 20-odd years of shooting.My eyes are not what they used to be and I don’t think I could even pull focus on a camera and walk at the same time. Those things are heavy. Even with the DSLRs, you have to weight them to get the stability you need.You are pulling focus in a centimetre of space which is very difficult to do and any movement is seen so you have to rig it up and, being a girl, my centre of gravity is totally different to that of a guy’s. The way I carry my weight is so different to a male photographer and rigs are designed for guys, so I urge the girls out there to make a cool rig and make it fashionable!” Also surprising is the fact that some


photographers are being asked to turn over the


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