Shooting Behind the Scenes With Maria Chambers

Filmmaker Maria Chambers shares some insights on using film to shoot a moody behind the scenes set during a music video shoot.

When it comes to film photography beginnings, Georgia-based and London-raised filmmaker Maria Chambers has one of the most interesting. “If memory serves me right the first film shoot that I did was to create an album cover and some stills for a musician friend of mine about seven years ago. On that shoot, I shot on a Canon AE-1 that I had just purchased.” she recalled. As a child from the ‘90s, all her treasured family photos were shot on film, so she found the format fitting and familiar when she picked up the camera. She still uses the same camera to this day, including for a beautiful behind the scenes set she took during the shoot for the music video of Another World by SEYD.

Maria ties her love of analog imagery to her filmmaking and production, and it certainly shows in his set. It’s easy to see the qualities and aesthetics that made her fall in love with film photography come together to set the mood for this shoot.

“I have a huge attachment to my AE-1, it’s my workhorse! The film I used on this particular shoot was Fuji Superia X-tra 800 which I then got the lab to push to 1600 ISO when developing the shots. I was looking for a low light film and I was genuinely very nervous about shooting low light as I’d not shot with this film before and I must say what came out was truly magical! I have not edited any of the pictures in this set, which allows the film to speak volumes for itself.”

According to Maria, people who work on film sets in the UK usually have a hiatus period during winter, since the industry stops due to the lack of daylight during shooting hours. So, she usually collaborates with other artists instead. It was during this time that she got to do this shoot.

“I came across a post from the director on social media, he was looking for a camera assistant but after he saw my work he asked me to shoot BTS pictures for the music video. On set, I drifted between camera assistant and BTS photographer. It was a two-day shoot and the coolest part was going to the Thamesmead area of London and shooting where lots of the scenes from A Clockwork Orange were shot. It’s a super unusual place that I’d never been exposed to even after living in London for over 20 years.”

As with most photographers and filmmakers, light, shadows, and colors, are crucial to Maria’s portrait photography, especially for the dreamy yet cinematic style we see in this set. These qualities are tied into her dedication to make each body of work an ode to her career and life-long love of cinema. However, she also thrives on the subject and their personality. “People that I meet and know are my true inspiration. If I have a particular idea in mind I can almost always pick out somebody that I know or have met that would match my concept perfectly.”

“The subjects in my photos are PJ Kirby and Barbara Blanka Wegorzewska, both professional dancers, made the most graceful subjects a photographer could ask for,” she added. “I wanted their personalities to shine through the pictures, and this is what I tried to achieve with the portraits shot.”

“I wanted their personalities to shine through the pictures, and this is what I tried to achieve with the portraits shot.”

When it comes to where she gets inspiration for projects like this, Maria tells us that the unique locations she was privileged enough to have visited also play a big part. Apart from the opportunity of shooting in new landscapes, they also constantly bring her new people. Still, as with a lot of photographers, she finds herself working more often with someone more familiar in more ways than one: her partner.

“I guess every artist has their main muse. But for me, he is my photographic guinea pig. In essence, he lets me experiment with different films, lighting, and styles which have been a massive help in furthering my understanding of photography.”

“I want to keep the spirit of analog photography alive for the next generation of photographers.”

As with all of us, Maria’s personal love for film largely accounts for what keeps her shooting today. However, it’s also about doing her part in supporting the film community, buying films and paying for film development. Keeping film alive this way makes sure she — and the rest of us — will be appreciate and support the process we love for as long as possible.

“For me, it’s supporting the analog community as a whole which I’ve integrated into and become a part of since that first shoot seven years ago. I want to keep the spirit of analog photography alive for the next generation of photographers. When it comes to aesthetics I have been and always will be a classic girl, and what’s more classic than analog film, right?”

Don’t forget to visit Maria Chambers‘ website to see more and stay updated on her work.

Joy Celine Asto
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Joy is a writer, film photographer, and part-time traveler from Manila, Philippines. She finds bliss in exploring whatever surrounds her and documenting it in photos and stories. She runs on caffeine, lives on books, savors good music, and thrives in everything creative.

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