Golden-colored plaques line an interior wall of the Dr. John F. McEwan Performing Arts Center at WHRHS, showcasing accomplishments of alumni who have achieved unique and purposeful careers.
One is for Claire Folger, formerly of Whitman, and a graduate of the Class of 1981, who was nominated for the Wall of Fame as a still photographer who works in film production. Her career credits have continued to develop immensely since 1996 with regular jobs on local films shot in Boston and surrounding towns.
As a still photographer, Folger’s work is used for movie posters and marketing materials for online media and promotions by studios such as Warner Bros.
Her usual day is 12 hours, five days a week and she is committed to approximately three months during a filming project.
On set her workspace is tight, yet defined, next to the cameramen and sharing space with the director, and sound operator.
Her photos are recognizable as they are from the actual film. The posters gracing movie theaters is her work in its completed stages.
Her timing is key in her ability to produce the photo that contains all of the right components.
“Sometimes I just know when to take a photo and when not to take a photo, “she said.
Folger defined a typical set as being “absolute silence” when a scene begins.
“Everyone has settled in. The only sounds are the actors performing their lines,” she said.
The “behind-the-scenes” work of movies, even for Folger, can be exciting although she has an intense focus while in work mode. In past movies, she has had the opportunity to photograph at Fenway Park in night scenes and the CIA building, which she was in awe over the interior architecture.
In 2005 she worked on the film “Gone, Baby, Gone” with Ben Affleck and an epic photo of Kate Hudson’s blue hair in “Bride Wars,” in 2009. Folger said the movie was great to shoot.
“I worked with real Vera Wang wedding gowns. They had favors and props, which were all in the movie.” she said. “As part of my job- props, things that are involved in the movie those are the things I also photograph.”
Folger’s stills are now prominently featured in movie theater lobbies as posters of Johnny Depp in “Black Mass,” a film about James “Whitey” Bulger, directed by Scott Cooper.
“It is a very serious role and he (Depp) was chilling watching him on set. There were so many fantastic actors in the movie,” she said.
She looks to capture the relationship between actors that the filmgoer will see as well as the behind-scene glimpses into the process of production.
“I also capture the director … watching him work is also my job — the coaching of the actor,” Folger said. “I am always looking for the nice moments. I like to take pictures of people and show the enjoyable process of film making.”
She also fondly recalls photographing architecture, such as the Charlestown Bridge, and scenic shots through the city during filming of “The Town” (2010). Other recognizable posters, such as the “Nuns with Guns,” based on the Charlestown money heists, sometimes capturing skyline shots and neighborhoods give color and placement to the films’ surroundings.
She has fond recollections of the Charlestown Bridge at dusk with lights draping the bridge her scenic landscapes making the cut for the final posters.
During filming for “Gone Baby, Gone,” she photographed an orange sunset, which also made the posters for the film, but after five hours of filming on a rooftop she found the sunset over the Boston skyline captivating. Noticing the details around her has become her perfected craft.
Folger grew up one of five children. She said she was inspired artistically by her father who recently passed away.
“Eugene Folger — Gene — he was a big influence,” she said. He was a businessman in town, the owner of Folger’s Camera shop, where he fixed cameras and developed film. She recalls being able to practice on different cameras that her dad let her use. She would take photos of friends and learned how to develop film in their basement. She loved photography but most of it was just having fun.
Her mother Margaret was a lifelong Whitman resident until recently and was active in town. She was a long time lecture reader at the Holy Ghost Church.
Following high school, when she was voted class artist at W-H, it was probably unexpected that she chose biology as her college major, she said.
She attended South Eastern Mass. University and earned a science degree in biology.
“I was always interested in art. In conjunction with my sciences I took many art classes drawing, art history and painting,” she said. “You always think you are making the right decision at the time in your career.”
Folger worked as a research technician at Boston University Medical School for 27 years in the anatomy department as an electron microscopist. She work with high powered microscopes, which in similarity she used her visual skills albeit in different ways. She started her own photography studio as well as working on movies for several years balancing three jobs.
“I realized I wanted to continue in a career move and take my work to the next level,” she said.
Her photography career is unique and often draws fascination. People are always intrigued when you work with celebrities, she said. It is also uncommon that in her profession she did not relocate to New York or Los Angeles, both booming regions for the movie industry.
“It took a long time before I got paying jobs,” she said. Nearly ten years later she finally saw continuous income and stability. She joined IATSE the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees film union as well as the Cinematographer Guild in 2000.
Her first job on a small film as a still photographer was
“Darien Gap” with director Brad Anderson. It went to Sundance Film festival in the mid 1990’s and did very well, she said.
His next film “Next Stop Wonderland,” Anderson brought her on board as she slowly changed careers. She worked again several years later with Brad Anderson co- writer and director of “Session 9.”
Allotting her time for three months during shoots usually a film will wrap up a year before it goes into movie theatres.
Folger’s most recent work, “Central Intelligence,” film from this summer she completed on the north shore with Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart will be released next summer.
“The Finest Hours,” a Disney production movie was completed last fall in Quincy and Chatham. It is a true story of a shipwreck and dramatic rescue due to be released in early 2016.
Some of Folger’s most recognizable work includes stills for: “Black Mass” (2014) Warner Bros. Director: Scott Cooper; “Argo” (2011) Warner Bros. Director: Ben Affleck. 2013 Academy Award Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Editing;
“Ted” (2011) Universal. Director: Seth MacFarlane;
“The Finest Hours” (2014) Walt Disney Pictures. Director: Craig Gillespie;
“August: Osage County” (2012) The Weinstein Company/ John Wells Company;
“The Town” (2010) Warner Bros. Director: Ben Affleck; as well as dozens of other films, television series and individual episodes.