Show: Billy Elliot The Musical | Pierre B Photo | Montreal Photographer


*thanks for all the great feedback… by popular demand, I added another 10 photos at the end 🙂  -cheers!

For a little change of pace, instead of shooting a rock concerts, I ended up shooting a musical at Place des Arts on Tuesday night… Billy Elliot.  The place was packed, it was the premier, and it is here in town for the rest of the week.  

Ah, what to say about shooting musicals.  Not much really.   Other than it can be a bit more challenging then one thinks.  For starters, you are shooting from way in the back, behind the soundboard (I took a quick iphone photo to give you perspective as most people rarely look that far back).  So this means that the shoot can be pretty damn gear intensive.  I’m well equipped (woah, door soooo open there) in terms of photography gear, but when I show up at these places, I get serious lens envy.  Sure, most of the other photographers are print photographers who have their gear paid / loaned by their newspaper, it is just sometimes a bit humbling to see them all toting a 400mm f/2.8 lens over their shoulder.  But they, the right gear for the right job will make a difference.  For myself?  A 70-200 f/2.8 IS with a 1.4 teleconverter.  And probably the MOST important piece of equipment… a monopod!!!  Standing for 45 minutes shooting with this gear can kill your neck and arms, and that will kill your images towards the end of the show.

Photography wise, you don’t have much room to move.  You are stuck in place for most of the show as there really isn’t anywhere to go.  With the other photographers and the video guys, the back of the soundboard is pretty tight.  So it is up to the photographer to come up with different images… either by changing focal lengths or *gasp* shoot to crop the photo later for a close up (yeah yeah, I know, get it right in camera… get me a 400mm and I will).

For my settings, again, they jump all over the place.  In theatre, the light can be pretty constant.  But in a musical, it is all over the place.  They want to add drama and lower the light often, and then it goes big and bright for the more punchy numbers!  I was also a bit limited as using a teleconverter has me shooting at a max of f/4, which is a full stop of light lost.   They are also moving on stage… you know… song and dance kind of thing.  So you need a fast shutter to freeze the action.  To keep a decent shutter (and by decent I mean 1/200), always at f/4, I had the ISO jumping from 3200 to 20,000.  Would I print the ISO 20,000 images as a 24×36 poster size?  Probably not.  But hey, I’m shooting for the web so I can stretch things if I need to get the shot.

So here is the iphone shot showing you how far back we are shooting.  Thank god the sound guy didn’t wear a top hat

And now… the rest of the images of the show!


** Full show critique (in french) will be up on the medias website at

***And here is a new series of images


  1. These are incredible photos of my favorite show, thank you so much! Please get in touch if you have any more, too!!! I’ve been a “superfan” for years now and seen the show many times, yet you’ve captured some beautiful moments I’ve never seen photographed before. Well done!!!

    1. Thanks! These were the ones sent to the media (as they are the best ones in my opinion), I do have a few more. I’ll let ya know 😉

  2. amazing pics… definitely have lens & camera envy… unless you are a photographer you really dont know what it takes to get pics of this quality when shooting in a low light environment…

    may i ask what camera were you using ?

    1. Mike, I was shooting last night with a Canon 5D Mark III (which is a godsend for high ISO) and used a 70-200 f/2.8 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter. I had lens envy from the big media types myself, but still managed to get the job done 🙂

  3. I agree. I would LOVE it if you could send me any more photos that you have. These are absolutely wonderful!!! Thank you so much for taking these!!!

  4. Thank you for sharing these wonderful shots. As the real grandmother of Billy (Noah), I loved them.

  5. I was at last night’s show which was absolutely amazing! These photos capture the essence of it beautifully….thank you.

  6. Thank you so much! Theses are beautiful photos, I am so grateful! I would also like to see more please. My daughter is a ballet girl, green striped shirt, one braid from the top-side of her head. Again, Thank you!

  7. These are beautiful photographs! Do you have any of “Expressing Yourself” with Billy and Michael?

      1. Thanks so much! Too bad you weren’t allowed to shoot more of the show. You are an excellent photographer 🙂

  8. Hi Pierre,
    My name is Mark Parets and I am Noah’s father. Can you e-mail me at the above noted email address. Your photographs are wonderful. I would like to see if i can get some of these shots of Noah.

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