During the pandemic just about all of the dance events that I planned to attend were postponed or cancelled. This left me with a great deal of time to myself at home, and with a lot less travel related expenditures, and so I took a 12 months subscription to two different online sites offering professional grade photography tutorials. For months on end I was watching tutorials for hours every night, covering all aspects of photography including lighting, posing, fine art, compositing, retouching and more. One of the instructors, sadly I’ve forgotten which one, made a remark that I appreciate greatly: If you are working for clients, then the photos you produce need to please the clients. If, on the other hand, you don’t have clients, then the photos you make only need to please yourself.
For now at least, I don’t have clients. The photos I take of dancers I do for fun. I do this as a hobby because it moves me and not because I am being compensated in some way as an event photographer. Accordingly, I have a great deal of freedom to shoot and retouch the dance photos as I like. I am able to experiment and explore different styles, to try different techniques and creative image applications. The image above, for example, was given a tour through Topaz Studio 2 to add some special effects.
This next image above was shot a number of years ago back in 2019. Technically it’s not the best photo and I retouched it without knowing a lot of the tricks that I’ve learned since. But I like this photo, it pleases me. If you realize that these two people are in the middle of a dance rather than having a standing conversation you can begin to wonder: What is going through their minds at this moment? What are they feeling?
I included this next image above in this post because it’s one that I do like a lot, but most likely many others won’t. In fact, I once received a resounding critic from someone for posting a back-of-the-head photo like this. What is it about this photo that I like? For one, there’s a near perfect triangular harmony in the color scheme. Also, you can easily allow yourself the feeling that you are the female dancer in the photo because of how close up the crop is and because the woman is in focus and the man is not. For me, however, I enjoy this photo mostly because of its mood. I like the body language between the two dancers: he is leaning forwards attempting to entertain; she is standing still in apparent wonderment of what-will-he-do-next?
For this post’s last example, the photo above is typical for my in-your-face shooting style of a few years back. I liked to get really close up. I still do, but in the meantime I’ve learned that I also can make beautiful photos when a bit more of the dancer is included in the scene. What pleases me about getting close up like this is that the dance induced emotions is very much the focus of the photo. I often crop off a bit of hair or head as was done in this photo because of the effect it has: it moves the viewer from being an outside observer into the scene itself.
Of course in addition to pleasing myself I hope that my efforts also will please others. My wish is to be able to create artful and aesthetic photos of dance in motion that are nice to look at not just once but again and again.