Sunday, December 14, 2014

Creative Flash 8 - Modern Dance

The Art Of Human Motion

One of the most fascinating shooting assignments of the year was also one of the most challenging.

A modern dancer contacted me about taking some promotional head shots. We arranged to meet one afternoon at his rehearsal studio. As we discussed his expectations, I offered to take some shots of him dancing. He was open to the idea, and what happened next was amazing.

a photo of a modern dancer in his studio
Modern Dance 1

a photo of a modern dancer in his rehearsal studio
Modern Dance 2

I looked around the studio and picked what seemed a promising location. He agreed, and I set up my lights as quickly as possible. (We didn't have much time left after completing the head shots.)

When everything was ready, I gave him the signal, and he launched into a non-stop flow of acrobatic movement. I watched him closely and released the shutter any time that he seemed to be moving toward an expressive position.

a photo of a modern dancer in new york by daniel south
Modern Dance 3

a photo of a modern dancer
Modern Dance 4

After about two minutes of astounding dance improvisation, he would stop and say, "I think that's enough."

I would look around the studio quickly, spot a new potential backdrop and say, "Uh, how about over here?"


I'd drag the lights into a new position, rework the exposure calculations, focus, and lock everything in place. When I gave him the word, he'd go at it again for another two minutes while I shot like crazy trying to catch as much of his expressive, improvised performance as I could.

a photo of a dancer improvising a modern dance routine
Modern Dance 5

"Okay, I think that's enough," he would say.

It was a demanding and fast-paced session, but the images came out beautifully. The experience underscored the importance of being able to set up my lighting kit in a hurry. Clients have limited time, energy, and patience. Work fast if you want to make the most of your time with them.

: Nikon D800E
Lens:     Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Flash:    2 x Nikon SB-910; 2 x Nikon SB-800

Light happens.  Be ready.  Shoot hard.

Copyright © 2014 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

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