Dade Freeman
Photographer & Trainer
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Dade Freeman's blog page for all the latest photographic news.

Jack Sparrow photoshoot

Captain Jack Sparrow is a fictional pirate, portrayed by Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Oozing charisma, flailing hands and with a drunken swagger, Jack Sparrow frequently finds himself in seemingly inescapable situations but always manages to fight, charm or cheat his way out of them! The incredible detail of Jack's costume coupled with his unique mannerisms really make this character come to life.

This week, I was delighted to be in the enviable position of photographing Simon Newton (UK Jack Sparrow lookalike), who painstakingly went to the same level of detail for his Jack persona. The challenge on this photoshoot was that Jack is a very animated character - this lends itself perfectly to film, but not so easily to stills. Getting Simon to act out short scenes or recite dialogue was a good way to keep the character alive, but less animated.

Me, I’m dishonest, and you can always trust a dishonest man to be dishonest. Honestly, it’s the honest ones you have to watch out for.
— Captain Jack Sparrow. Pirates of the Caribbean

Watching Simon prepare his makeup prior to the shoot was interesting - he even went so far as to make his fingernails dirty. That's attention to detail right there. But the whole look came together once the wig was on. Suddenly, standing right in front of me, was Jack Sparrow.

Simon Newton doubled for Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and you can see why - he portrays Jack brilliantly and has clearly invested a lot of time and money in his alter ego. 

Creating portraits of Captain Jack Sparrow was a great way to spend an evening and I left the studio knowing I had plenty of cracking images. Hopefully, through the images you will see how well I captured the spirit of the flamboyant pirate.

Why is the rum gone?
— Captain Jack Sparrow

I like to mix up my lighting techniques and of-late, I have been experimenting with a four-point lighting setup. The lighting on this set was 4x Elinchrom 500 BRX heads (courtesy of The Flash Centre). The 'main' light was a large softbox, close to the subject. The 'fill' was a large octabox, pulled way back from the subject, with the 'hair' light and 'background' light both being bare bulbs with the standard reflector dish on them. All photographed on a black Colourama backdrop. Shot using the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, with the 70-200mm f/2.8L lens  - at 115mm, and with an aperture of f/11.

And lastly, my editing style has developed quite a bit, partly due to no longer having to work on a small laptop screen and partly due to the likes of Phlearn (as mentioned here).

At the moment I am looking for character actors to create a series of images, so if you know anyone suitable point them my way. I'm sure they will thank you ;) 


Dade Freeman is a Brighton photographer producing portraits and headshots for actors, musicians, corporate business and other professional industries.