At the end of July, I had the pleasure of attending a Dance Inspired Photography Workshop run by Andrew Appleton and Appleton Photo Training. Ballet and Contemporary Dance is something I really enjoy seeing on stage and I’m a regular visitor to Sadler’s Wells, ENB at The Coliseum and The Royal Opera House. Being able to combine photography and dance, two things I feel passionately about, has been something I’ve wanted to try for ages.
The workshop took place in The Old Shoe Factory in Northampton, a fascinating and eclectic assortment of all sorts of interesting stuff over three or four floors. The top floor, in particular, is an amazing space – full of floor boards, wooden rafters, skylights and dust, spot-lit in shafts of light.
The first part of the morning was spent discussing some of the theory behind dance photography and an introduction to dance styles from our dancer/model for the day, the very talented Alexa Hilton. In order aid communication and to gain a better appreciation of some of the basic dance poses, Andrew and Alexa thought it would be a great idea to get us all doing some ballet. Watching six hairy photogs trying to stand in third position was extremely funny and I’m very thankful no one was left holding a camera at that point. 🙂
The remaining period before lunch was spent practising our timing. Anticipating the optimum moment to press the shutter is critical in dance photography and with (especially) aerial moves lasting only fractions of a second, split second timing is essential. Believe me, it’s very tricky and many of our first attempts were wildly off the mark, but after a period of practice, we were all showing at least some signs of improvement.
After lunch, we moved on to lighting and attempted some more creative ideas, e.g. dragging the shutter in order to capture some movement along with a frozen image (see below).
Had a thoroughly fun time and met some lovely people. Looking forward to taking what I’ve learnt and hopefully getting to do some more dance photography soon. The following images are a few I managed to capture during the day and a few BTS shots which I hope you enjoy looking at too.
[Above] Main floor of The Old Shoe Factory with its eclectic mix of ‘stuff’.
[Below] Alexa gets ready for timing practice.
[Below] Controlled studio lighting setup. Two gridded soft boxes were placed either side and roughly inline with Alexa. The same configuration was adapted slightly by lowering the lights to the floor for the groundwork shots. Not all images look great when converted into black and white. Unless the light has a certain quality, many monochrome pics just look ‘muddy’ or ‘washed out’. A powerful subject might still save it as a decent photograph, but otherwise you end up with something decidedly lacklustre.
The following image is intended to be quite conceptual/painterly in nature and was created using a 1″ exposure and a burst of flash designed to capture some movement. To be honest, you can see it more in Alexa‘s dress than her feet, but pleased with how it came out.