I was honoured to be commissioned to take studio style dance /commercial photographs for the Stoller School of Dancing to be used on their website and Facebook page amongst other things.
For the shoot, six pupils were chosen to represent the school and a hall was booked with enough space to set up my studio background (the biggest one I have) plus lighting and also enable the dancers to have room to move. The shoot lasted 3 hours in total with just under 1 hour of that for me to set up and pack down the equipment.
The principal of the school, Madeline Stoller, had a specific set of shots that she wanted to achieve within the time, including some floor work, leaps, tap, modern and ballet poses. As a professional dancer and dance instructor, of course she was very particular about the form that these dance positions and moves should make in the images. It was not necessarily an easy task when some of the leaps lasted literally milliseconds and I could not fire off more than one shot at a time due to the use of studio lighting. Firing of more than one shot meant that any after the first would not be lit properly as the studio lights would not keep up with the rapid shooting. So for example of some of the leaps if I was only one tenth of a second late catching the ultimate moment the legs could have moved more than 10 cm away from their ultimate positions.
I used the largest backdrop I have which is a large, white Lastolite knitted curtain background, but even this was too small on occasions when the dancers we’re leaping with legs and arms at extreme angles which meant some editing when feet and hands went off the backdrop! Thankfully the height of the background was adequate so at least I didn’t have to edit hair going off the backdrop as well!
I decided to shoot with the backdrop with it unlit, leading to a grey background in the images and some shadow, which I felt greatly added to the form, depth and dramatic look of the images. For some images I deliberately made the shadows deeper to create more drama and form and to add to a “stage” look.
After each shot Madeline was checking the form of the photo on the back of the camera and making sure that the dancer was performing exactly right and that I had caught the right moment. Not easy to get both at once!
The shoot was physically exhausting both for the pupils and for me but at the end of it we were all very happy with what was achieved. Madeline was very happy with the photos and even wants some prints for her walls at home as well as for their original purposes.
Click the thumbnails to see larger versions of shots from the shoot.