The theme of this year’s Decatur Christmas parade was “Christmas movie marathon” and, at the risk of ruffling some feathers, I have to say that the most cinematic vehicle was the Jackson family’s car. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t write “best float” or “best movie representation.” I’m simply stating that, from a photography point of view, this car had the best cinematic looks.
As a matter of fact, the Jacksons (who coincidentally won the “best decorated vehicle” award) didn’t even try to represent a movie. However, each time I look at this picture it gives me the impression it has been taken straight from a movie, and the main reason is the lighting. While most everybody else put tons of lights only on the outside of their cars, this one had lights — many lights — on the inside as well, which allowed the passengers’ faces to be seen and photographed clearly from outside the vehicle.
That’s exactly what cinematographers usually do when they need to film scenes that involve the inside of a car: They add lighting, especially if it’s a night scene. Sometimes the lights are outside, and other times they are hidden inside.
The light on Amanda’s, Jeremy’s and Joshua’s faces is also quite cinematic because is very soft, due to the fact that it comes not from a single source, but from many small sources, namely each of the little bulbs. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen more than one cinematographer use Christmas lights in tight spaces (like cars, precisely) where there was no room for any bigger source.
I don’t know if the Jacksons were thinking about all of this stuff when they decorated their car (probably not), but I would like to let them know they did a big favor to all the photographers out there that night.
About the series: Behind the Lens is a photo column that explores the thoughts and mechanics behind images of the community taken by Decatur Daily photojournalists. These photos resonate with the photographer, either through the story behind the shot or the image itself.
About the photographer: Jeronimo Nisa, who is originally from Spain, has been a photojournalist with The Decatur Daily since 2008. He earned a master’s degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously worked in Italy and South Africa.