I recently had the opportunity to photograph an aspiring young ballerina in the studio for her ballet portfolio.
While I have worked with dancers before, this was the first time I have ever worked with a single dancer for quite so long (several hours) and to photograph so many different poses.
Going into this project I knew that I needed to learn at least the basics of ballet so that we could speak the same language, but by the time we finished our session together I had a whole new appreciation for all the hard work, effort, and discipline that ballet dancers have. One of the most difficult challenges for me was capturing that decisive moment, that split-second when the dancer was at the peak of her movement. Since I was working with studio strobes I couldn’t just “cheat” by firing off bursts of shots hoping to get the right one, I had to actually plan out the shot and take a single photo at the height of the action.
Every movement that she made, every photograph that I captured, was scrutinized in extreme detail. Several photographs that I thought were artistically beautiful were immediately dismissed by her because the movement or pose was flawed. Despite that we both persevered together, take after take, photograph after photograph, to come away with some stunning action portraits that we both loved.
By the end of the session my subject was completely exhausted, but at the same time was thrilled with the photographs we had created. I was personally amazed at her stamina and at the fact that she was able to finish the session looking, to my camera, just as strong as when we started.