Shadowing Cinema: François Duhamel

They dress inconspicuously. They hide behind the crew, around corners, they mingle with the directors and actors, they blend into the background, they become part of the decor. Always looking, always waiting for that shot. That shot that has the ability to capture the essence and the look of an entire movie (I’ve seen it), or the emotions and thoughts of an actor during the making of his/her art. Known as set still photographers or unit still photographers, they take photos on the set of a film as it’s being made. They document everything that is happening on camera and everything that is happening behind the scenes. But those images not only tell the story of a movie, they are a piece of cultural history, too.
Amy Adams in American Hustle by François Duhamel

Amy Adams in “American Hustle” (2013), directed by David O. Russell


A new series that brings together two worlds I love:
cinema and photography. Shadowing Cinema is about
the unit still photographer: the one who documents
everything that happens on and behind the screen.

It is the still photographer who sees the film first.

It doesn’t take a still photographer to make a movie, “but it does take a still photographer to sell a movie, and to show the movie, and to archive the movie, and to have the moments go down in history,” said Merie Weismiller Wallace, co-president of The Society of Motion Picture Still Photographers. The motion picture still photography is used for posters, publicity and magazines for the release of a film.
Single White Female Bridget Fonda by François Duhamel

Bridget Fonda in “Single White Female” (1992), directed by Barbet Schroeder

I have talked about still photography before and about the first behind the scenes photographer, Bob Willoughby, and I even did an exclusive interview with David Fahey, the owner of the Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles, to find out just what it was that gained Bob Willoughby the trust and backstage access of the first rate directors and actors of the ’50s and ’60s.
Jamie Foxx The Soloist by François Duhamel

Jamie Foxx on the set of “The Soloist” (2009), directed by Joe Wright

River Phoenix Mosquito Coast by François Duhamel

River Phoenix in “Mosquito Coast” (1986), directed by Peter Weir

Saving Mr Banks Emma Thompson by François Duhamel

Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks in “Saving Mr. Banks” (2013), directed by John Lee Hancock

Shadowing Cinema is a new series on Classiq that celebrates cinema, photography and storytelling. Today’s featured still photographer is François Duhamel, who has worked on a great variety of contemporary films like Dead Poets Society, Inglorious Basterds, There Will Be Blood, The Dark Knight, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, 12 Years A Slave, Skyfall, and one of my favourite films of 2017, Detroit.
Gena Rowlands Love Streams by François Duhamel

Gena Rowlands in “Love Streams” (1984), directed by John Cassavetes

Amy Adams American Hustle Francois Duhamel

Amy Adams in “American Hustle” (2013), directed by David O. Russell

Inglorious Basterds François Duhamel

Melanie Laurent in “Inglorious Basterds” (2009), directed by Quentin Tarantino


Discover our movie stories shop – inspired by the fascinating world of cinema
and by the never-fading beauty of the tangible

photos: François Duhamel

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