As a top on-set photographer, David Strick gets to go behind-the-scenes of some of the biggest TV shows and movies of all time. His job is to capture what we don't see on screen, not just those moments when the lead actor converses with the director, but, in more general terms, what he calls the "reality of unreality." More than anything, Strick hopes to "transmit the amazement of this artificial world that exists all around us as a kind of everyday parallel universe."
Exactly what kinds of experiences is Strick talking about? How would he describe what life is like on the set of a tv show or movie? "They’re really big industrial fantasy factories," he says, "kind of like Disneyland without The Happiest Place On Earth overlay. Visiting one of them feels like being a bug on the windshield of Hollywood, but that’s pretty much how I feel all the time anyway. I see exactly the same things everybody else does, but maybe I’m just more astonished by it."
Over the last two years, Strick has visited the set of Glee five times and he even met the cast before the show went on air. A few weeks ago, he spent four days in New York to shoot their finale (which airs tonight). Strick describes that experience.
"They filmed a lot in outdoor spaces and created a public frenzy," he said, "and going from the isolated bubble of stage production in L.A. to the mob scenes in Manhattan underlined the effect that a show can actually have. Film/tv production is a slow, painstaking incremental clinical process, and it’s mostly isolated from its audience, but this was being face to face with the consequences."
When asked how he felt photography, as a profession, has changed over the years, here is what he told us. "Digital capture and the web seem to have changed everything. So much has shifted it’s like a game of 52-Card Pickup, but instead of tossing the cards, we are the cards."