Legacy Dance Productions Creative Dance Shoot
While shooting a client’s headshots, my phone started receiving several text messages. Being the “good photographer” that I am, I didn’t look at the text til done shooting. A local photographer, Jamie Jones, was asking me if I had ever shot any dance portraits. More specifically had I shot the “Pinterest popular” dance and chalk portraits. I had not shot many types of dance portraits, but I did spend several weeks in 2017 shooting a creative series called “Dust & Dance.” The “Dust & Dance” series was what the dance studio wanted. I talked with Brieanna Alford, the owner, and director of Legacy Dance Productions. We went over the logistics of the shoot and more importantly the type of mess that the shoot would create. I am always excited about a creative dance shoot.
Hair & Movement
The beauty of these portraits is capturing the movement of the dancer. The flour added to their skin and hair gives the images an ethereal feeling. The flour coming off the skin adds a sense of movement and can highlight muscles, but the hair is what puts the images over the top. After several practice shoots, I learned two things: long hair and a lot of flour in the hair creates amazing images.
This type of shoot works great when shot on a black background. It allows for great contrast in the images. The subject is made very clear, and there is nothing to distract from your intent of the image. Having a black background also allows for easy editing of the images. When a dancer performs a sequence of moves, you have a few options: you can show the movements in a sequence of images side by side, or you can layer all the movements into one composited picture. My favorite thing to do is the latter; especially when it comes to the movement of hair. You can layer the hair, or you can layer the burst of dust in photoshop.
I learned from my “Dust & Dance” project that the best way to shoot these dance is with flour. Just cheap, all-purpose flour from the grocery store is all you need. Some online guides suggest chalk or white powder. Those options can be pretty costly and sometimes hard to find. The fine dust from powdered chalk can damage lenses; I knew I wanted to stay away from that. Using flour helps create a cloud when the dancer is moving, but the particles are heavy enough not just to stay suspended in the air. You can go from one pose/jump to another without having to worry about a cloud of dust, and the dancer can breathe. The only problem that flour seems to cause is that it can be difficult to get out of the dancer’s hair.
Favorite Image From the Shoot
One of my favorite images from the Legacy Dance Production shoot was a group shot with a hair flip that took 16 images to complete. It captures each dancers hair flip in almost a 180-degree arc, along with the dust coming off their hair. This creative dance shoot allowed me to use creative lighting and use some my post-production skills. This takes a great image to a different level.
The simplicity of these portraits can convey drama and strength. I favor the flour portraits in black and white because of the contrast, but sometimes the color can be just as strong.
This shoot would not have been possible without the great dancers at Legacy Dance Productions. They had never done anything like this and took the challenge head-on. If you have any questions on how I shot this session or if you would like to book me for your session feel free to contact me.