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  • Writer's pictureDamien Ebanks

A Portrait of a Painter | Behind The Scenes

Normally, Mondays are dreadful. You have to wake up (I know), get dressed, go to work, talk to people that you may or may not tolerate. Eat a posh or not so posh sandwich (other lunch options also apply) do some more work and go home.

BUT NOT TODAY. Today is great.

It's great because I get to release the first of my 'Creatives of South London' series. These short video portraits are small snapshots into the minds of talented creatives in South West London, and my first one is about Katharine Le Hardy.

Katharine is an architectural painter based in Wimbledon. As soon as I saw her paintings of the Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, I was hooked on her work.


As this was a simple video, I went for a simple set up. I took photographs of her studio before the shoot, so I knew that I needed a wide lens and a really wide lens for shots like this.

I love a nice, well-composed shot so having lenses that let me do this in a small space was key. I decided on the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art lens and the Meike 12mm T/2.2 Manual Focus Cinema Lens.

They are both really good when it comes to the quality of the images produced. They are both well made with a solid body, and the fact that the Meike cine lens is so small made it a perfect companion for this shoot!

From the first image, you may have noticed the camera set up. I shoot with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k, it has a SmallRig cage, Smallrig NATO handle that covers my Samsung 1TB T5 SSD. For reference audio I have a Rode NTG2 shotgun mic plugged directly into the camera. As some of you may know, the battery life of this camera isn't very good, it may last 35 minutes on one battery. So I've also plugged in an NP-F970 battery adaptor so I can put in the same batteries I use to power my small LED light panels! They last around 3 hours of usage.

This is the most compact set up that I've had so far. It feels solid, the quality of the footage is amazing and I'd recommend this set up to anyone who wants great quality without lugging around a massive camera.


There are many hats that I have to put on in an interview. I have to be a sound operator, cameraman, director of photography, gaffer, producer, and director. It sounds a lot because it is!

Usually, I'd have help. An assistant or second camera operator would be available for bigger shoots and I'd have a full team for even bigger ones. But on that day I had only myself, which emotionally ranged from mildly stressed to pretty fun even.

Katharine was a star. She was nervous at times and worried about what she was saying, which from experience is totally normal from anyone that I've interviewed in the past. The key to getting a natural interview is to just treat it as a chat between friends. Building a relationship before the shoot helps, but when you are there it helps just to grab a tea/coffee, talk about your day, what you're planning to film and generally how long it will take. It puts minds at ease.


I wanted this video to be of really high quality, so I shot in 4K DCI 4096 x 2160, Blackmagic RAW 3:1.

This kept enough data in the footage so I could colour grade it however I want, and I got to reframe the interview without sacrificing the quality.


I was planning on using an Aputure 120d ii with a softbox on one side to give the interview a soft but contrasting look. But as soon as I walked into the room I noticed a gorgeous strip of light that highlighted the back of the wall. I decided to work with this instead and I'm happy I did.


The audio differs slightly from the basic set up that I mentioned earlier in the blog. I decided to plug the shotgun mic into a Zoom H5 field recorder, pop it onto a stand and put it as close as I could towards Katharine as back up audio. The main audio came from a Rode Link wireless lav microphone that I stuck on her jumper with a vampire clip.

This set up worked really well for me as the shotgun mic was close enough that if anything failed with the lav the backup audio was in a great condition to replace what was lost. Luckily the lav worked perfectly, so I didn't need to use the backup audio.


My favourite part of any shoot is getting great quality b-roll to add over the interview. I shot in 4k 60fps and honestly, everything I shot with this camera looked great. Because of the simplicity of this shoot, I either shot on a tripod or put the camera on my shoulder.

You just have to think about the composition of the shot, expose correctly and press record.

This shoot went really well. Katharine was great to interview, she was kind and thoughtful to my process as a filmmaker; I got all the shots that were needed! That's all that a guy could ask for.

You can watch the completed video here.

If you liked what you saw and would like a video similar for you or your business, email me or contact me through Facebook and we can chat!

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