Coco Van Oppens



Coco Van Oppens has been part of the film industry for years – as a stills photograph­er documentin­g the process. Last year she became the first Africa-based person to be accepted into the prestigiou­s Society of Motion Picture Still Photograph­y in Los Angeles. Because her job requires a specific set of skills, she has mastered the art of wearing what she calls her ‘invisible cape’.

‘To do this job well, you must have excellent listening and interperso­nal skills to match your technical capability. You have to know how to talk to actors

– or, more importantl­y, how not to talk to actors. Being in stealth mode is really important because you have to move around a lot, make sure you are not a distractio­n or getting in the way of filming. It’s just an incredible job –

I wake up excited every day.’

What Coco does is capture iconic imagery from the film set that will be used in various campaigns to advertise the project. Long before audiences see the motion picture, they’ll have seen billboards or photograph­s on IMDb that were taken on set.

Projects she’s worked on include the series Raised by Wolves, The Crown and Doctor Who, as well as feature films such as 24 Hours to Live. ‘They say unit stills photograph­ers are the most published photograph­ers in the world yet nobody knows who we are,’ she says. ‘What makes it fun is when people share images of my work that they’ve seen in places like New York and Hollywood.’

‘Each project presents itself with new and exhilarati­ng challenges. I get to work in the most beautiful locations – places you wouldn’t ordinarily find yourself. You could be shooting in a township one day and the next you’re on the beach or in Namibia. Not to mention the incredible wardrobe, makeup, set designs and props.’

To see more of Coco’s work, visit her Instagram page or cocovanopp­ens.com

❛ It’s just an incredible job – I wake up excited every day.❜

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