June 27, 2024

Take a special look into the unique perspective of Theatre UCF student Justin Joseph Rotolo (BFA, Acting), who has been capturing the essence of our Theatre UCF productions through the timeless art of film photography. Justin’s keen eye and passion for the stage have given us a fresh look at our performances, preserving a special emotional connection to moments that can only be provided from the unique perspective of a performer. His journey with a film camera this season not only highlights the artistry of our shows but also celebrates the beauty of traditional photography.

Read on in this Q&A as Justin shares his experiences and the stories behind his captivating shots.

What inspired you to start capturing Theatre UCF productions on film?

Two actors smile and embrace on stage in Irreverent

What initially drew me to shooting the Theatre UCF season on 35mm film was shooting film throughout the beginning of the school year coming up on Metamorphoses. I had taken all sorts of film rolls of my friends and when I was an understudy for the show, I realized I’d have the perfect chance to shoot the show through my perspective in the process. I used two film rolls: Ektar 100 and Ilford Delta 3200 and ever since then I have fallen in love with shooting theatre on film.
Since then, I have shot production photography for The Cherry OrchardSweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Irreverent. I’ve also been able to capture production photography and promotional images on film for Gruesome Playground Injuries produced by Alpha Psi Omega UCF. Love scene from Metamorphoses, drenched in water and mirroring the physical likeness of birds flying together.


What is unique about your experience and perspective of taking these photos?

What has made my experience so unique while shooting theatre on analogue is it has forced me to live in the moment throughout each show I’m shooting. I’m not able to view the images until after they are processed and scanned so I just have to shoot each moment and I don’t get to overthink the product until I get my scans back.
The other unique aspect of the process is deciding which film rolls I want to use for each individual show. Each roll yields different product with color or lack thereof, as well as how it reacts to light. This mixed with theatrical lighting. beautiful costumes, and scenery turns into dynamic photos. It has been a true joy getting to shoot photos of some of my best friends’ performances and designs throughout my time at UCF.


What’s your favorite production photograph from the season and why?

My favorite production to shoot this season was Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet

Image of Sweeney Todd standing above the ensemble, immersed in red, ominous lighting.

Street at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts. It was a huge effort from every department at Theatre UCF and
at a world class venue, so shooting it was just incredible. My favorite photo is of Johnny Flannagan as Sweeney Todd on the bridge above the whole cast with stark red on the ensemble and Johnny looking absolutely terrifying.
To continue to see Justin’s photography, check out his Instagram page @justinrotoloshots. And don’t miss any of the upcoming Theatre UCF productions kicking off this fall with The Clean House on Sept. 19.