Nicola Dove shares what it is like to be the official photographer for major feature films, specifically for the new James Bond movie, No Time To Die.
For many, this might sound like a dream job: working with famous actors and on amazing locations, shooting incredible stories, and having work seen all over the world. That is exactly what Dove, a film stills photographer originally from New Zealand, experiences in her job, but it’s not as effortless as it sounds.
To put it simply, the job of a stills photographer is to gather the best photography that represents the story. This way, the images honor everyone’s hard work on the set and hopefully draws people in to watch the film, explains Dove.
Having shot on the set of the recently released James Bond: No Time to Die for seven months, Dove tells PetaPixel that “it takes a high level of understanding and cooperation amongst the crew, the different departments, to shoot at such intensity for so long, but just knowing that everyone on a Bond film is at the top of their game is inspiring.”
This type of photography work comes with long hours and physically challenging environments but no two days are ever the same.
“I’ve shot in Venetian palaces, Moroccan markets, Cuban streets, Parisian cafes, New Zealand mountains, and at many incredible studio set builds including the famous 007 stage in Pinewood London,” says Dove.
Shooting stills for major feature films also requires a sense of ninja-like skills to keep out the way while being on top of the game with nerves of steel. Such was the case when shooting Daniel Craig walking towards the camera after parking an Aston Martin.
Although on paper it was a simple scene, it was all the elements — the elegant suit, the sunglasses, the watch, the car, the right light, and the few extra steps Craig took towards the camera — that made the image come together. That afternoon, the final image was set out from the set as the “first look” image from the film.
“It’s about knowing where to be when, and when to make yourself scarce. I say my job is part photographer, part ninja, part psychologist. It’s fascinating,” Dove says.
Working so intensively with a crew for prolonged periods of time can also feel bittersweet when filming is finished. Dove explains that although she was looking forward to a rest when No Time to Die concluded, she knew that she will miss everyone and the buzz from being involved in such an exhilarating project.
“Knowing it was Daniel Craig’s last day of his last Bond film heightened the emotions for everyone — we all knew it was the end of an era. Personally, it felt like an accomplishment to end really well, still attempting to make great shots right to the end,” she recalls.
Dove’s experience of almost 20 years in the field has also led her to open Film Stills Academy, an online education hub that helps other photographers learn about this type of work by demystifying the role and fast-track their prospects in the industry through coaching.
Image credits: All images provided courtesy of Nicola Dove and used with permission.