Striking posters have long lured audiences into movie theaters, but stage productions still lag behind in terms of eye-grabbing promotional images. Clowdus wants to change that, one photograph at a time.
The Atlanta-based photographer shoots striking, highly stylized photos of theater companies, actors seeking headshots and anyone who wants a fashion-inspired, Vanity Fair-style glamour shot. All must submit to her vision. “You either say yes or no and then you hand over all control,” Clowdus says. “You can’t get in there and try to have an opinion about it.”
Clowdus frequently subs in her own props and costumes and may stay up until all hours photoshopping in rich, otherworldly backgrounds. For panoramic tableaux with many actors, she lights and photographs each individual, then creates a composite from as many as 50 or 100 different images. (View a slideshow of Clowdus’ work here.) Clowdus considers it crucial to put subjects at ease to get the most evocative images. “I think my particular gift is my ability to connect with people,” says Clowdus, who at Dartmouth majored in women’s and gender studies. “My primary goal in photos is to convey the essence of a person or a story,” Clowdus says. “It’s getting to the truth of who somebody is or the story they’re trying to tell.”