A Dance Study


This past weekend I photographed my favorite subjects — dancers. Christina of Lisa Performing Arts in the Bay Area contacted me to shoot some of the girls at the dance school and we met on a chilly early morning to play around with poses, leaps, and powder!

After not shooting for over a year I’m so excited to get back into it again! I’m finally starting to build out my own studio (aka buy a lot of expensive random things) and wanted to test shooting with natural light. I wanted to see how close we could get to replicating the effect of studio lighting (not quite) and get back into the swing of working with models/dancers and directing them in the context of a photoshoot.

What I love about the gallery above is showing the progression from clean and organized to messy and chaotic, which is always fun. I was hesitant to try shooting powder without lights, but we gave it a shot and I love the light and shadow it adds to an otherwise black and white image. It also adds gradient and depth to the backdrop, creating an Oliphant/Schmidli backdrop effect.

My editing style has always been perfectionist. Dust spots out, grass perfect, sun flares be gone. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve gotten lazier, but over time I’ve learned to prefer the image showing the messy parts, the constructed backdrop setup, à la Leibovitz. It adds an element of behind the scenes to things and tells a story beyond the boundaries of the backdrop itself. It’s quite journalistic in the way it takes away the notion of heavy Photoshop because it tells scene it like it is — messy and real.

Getting back into dance photography is always fun, but definitely comes with the learning curve I lost touch with this past year. But I’m planning more shoots and rediscovering why I love dance photography so much. For me, it’s not about the technical skill (sorry, dancers) but about the way we meld dance expressions with portraiture. I want to express a feeling, not capture a technically perfect image. It all about the lines, facial expression, light, and fashion coming together to create a mood. And that’s not science, but art.

That’s where the creativity comes in. As an artist, the best part about what you do is a lifetime of experimentation and discovery. I can’t wait to start that journey again.