Filmmaker Brandon Manning describes how he shot a stunning behind the scenes video of Keith Sutter's Land Of Tears project and why he used the Sony α7S to do it.
By Brandon Manning
As an antidote to the creative monotony of commercial photography, my buddy, Keith Sutter, has challenged himself to create a series of highly impactful images. The concept behind his “Empathy Series” is to focus on what connects and binds us - not just the joy and love, but the pain and struggle that is universal.
Spurred on by the recent terrors of world politics...I was really struck in my core and wanted to create something with my new Sony a7S that really showed off not only what Keith and his dancer models are doing so earnestly in the natural environment, but also have a chance to tell the story of a friend who is doing so much for those around him to bring us together and ground us all as human beings. While scouting at Clementine Dam during a winter storm, Keith was struck by the sheer power and magnificence of the brutal torrents of overflowing water.
As he explored compositions, he discovered a small elevated position that afforded an incredible stage for his models. Keith has always reiterated to me how much authenticity matters to him, even with images that require compositing, so he planned on bringing his models out to the dam itself, only during conditions that didn’t mean certain death. When the water receded enough to be safe, we scheduled the shoot on a day with similar weather conditions as the day he originally visited the site. Since I started creating images, I’ve always struggled to find a balance between technicality and creativity as I navigated the strengths/limitations of various creative tools. I picked up the α7S at the insistence of Keith who raved about his Sony α7R II.
The Sony α7S enabled a level of creative freedom that allowed me to get out of my head and simply trust my instincts. Why? It adapts to literally any shooting environment whether you want to shoot on tripod or slider in amazing light or handheld in the worst light imaginable. Not only does the camera have incredible dynamic range—even at ISO 10,000—I can shoot slow motion up to 120fps, and I can hand-hold this camera for hours and hours using only my legs as a slider/jib.
Between the picture profiles that allow customizable dynamic range/color and the ability to nearly see in the dark, I now have a tool that allows me to take great content and go in a million directions regardless of whatever life throws at me. This look behind Keith’s lens is a testament to the beautiful struggle of the resilient human spirit and the limitless creativity rendered possible by artists working with Sony tools.
Music | James Everingham Music (jameseveringham.com)
Dancers | Karina Hagemeyer and Iver Johnson
Photographer/Star | Keith Sutter (sutterphoto.com)
Video Shot/Produced | Brandon Manning (iso-hungry.com)
Original Empathy Series Images | Sony α7R II Video | Sony α7S (excluding time-lapse)
Photo Production | Adobe Photoshop CC Video Production | Adobe Premiere & After Effects CC