Dec 31, 2009

Dance Project

As much as I spend most of my time playing with fashion photography these days I think I still consider myself a portraitist at heart - even when the goal is to make something "pretty" I'm still striving to make it "interesting" first and foremost.  I'm sure the fault is all mine, but it's felt like I've had fewer opportunities for shooting portraits lately, so it was time to make my own!

I'm not ashamed to admit that I've caught the same Dance Fever that's been going around for the last year or two...I'm huddled around "Glee" and "So You Think You Can Dance" as much as everyone else is, though my wife gets the credit for providing the gateway drugs on those.  So when it came time to create my own excuse for a portrait project, and a little self-assignment for the slow season, shooting dancers seemed as good one as any.

My thinking was this: we all see dance as motion - whether it's fluid or aggressive, we're used to seeing the entire progression of dance or dance steps, not frozen moments.  We see the whole, or larger parts of it, not really little fractions of seconds that might stand out on their own.  It seemed like an interesting opportunity for still photography.

Living in New York, you get used to seeing performers out of their element (or, at least, out of the element of performance): celebrities rolling out of bed and hitting their local coffeeshop, models in jeans and flipflops and sweatshirts dashing through SoHo with their portfolios, dancers in leotards and legwarmers on the street heading to ballet class.  I love the idea of comparing the dancer out of their element to the frozen moments of performance - stillness from motion.

My gut just said there might be interesting juxtapositions to be had.  And it might beat sitting around watching Dr. Phil.

Here's Mallory, Lemington and Solomon, taken from two of the shoots.  She's a modern dancer turned hiphop dancer, they're choreographers and same-sex ballroom partners.

In doing these I decided to keep the lighting and staging as simple and consistent as possible for every shoot, just so one wasn't looking at the production instead of the subject.  I thought it was important for my presence to take a backseat to theirs - essentially the opposite of shooting fashion.

So far the project has been a blast and is resulting in some really interesting images!  I'll be collecting selected images in a Flickr group and expect to eventually make a little art book out of them, even just for myself.  It's turned into a perfect way to keep busy during down time!

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