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Directing Dancers. Working in Sync. Working out Kinks.

December 5, 2017


In capturing dancers for photography, it takes a degree of synchronicity. My job is to anticipate the motion and know when to release my shutter at the apex of that motion. A leg doing a grand battement at 20 degrees is not as dynamic and going to look as nice as a leg in grand battement at 45 or even 90 degrees. It may take a few tries and working out our synchronicity kinks until myself and the dancer are working as one unit. One option is to shoot in continuous mode of releasing 10 shots a second knowing that I would definitely capture the leg in the optimal position.  Also, since the portraits are shot with just a simple black  background, there is nothing else in the photo to pull focus away from the dancer and therefore, the image stays sharp and crisp at a an aperture setting of F8 or F11.

For our first moment on set, I will give my dancers very explicit direction  on what I am looking to convey based on our initial interview session weeks before coming into the studio to shoot. I would ask the dancers to move with their hearts while being mindful of the space restrictions as well as staying in their key light. It is also good to know that dancers need music to get themselves going. I always ask dancers to bring in a playlist of songs we can pump into our sound system or we can simply find a good vibe for the studio on Pandora or Spotify. 

In the case of Brigette, a modern/contemporary dancer, it was important that her movements be as free flowing as possible and not come across too rigid or choreographed. For this as well as all of my dancers, shooting with a wide angle lens would give me the widest range to shoot.  

Shooting dancers is just like shooting any other human subject. Constant reaffirmations on how they're doing and most importantly, don't wear them out.  After a sequence, I'd always tell Brigette to stop and take a break. The last thing you want is for your dancer to injure themselves especially since the surface they are dancing on is not the same as what they are use to on a stage or a dance studio. 



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