Ballerina Project: Urban Ballerina

As a photographer, I feel very strongly that it is so easy to fall into a comfort zone. One where you know exactly what to do to get your shots. I like to challenge myself constantly. Not only does it keep photography interesting for me, but it also forces one to master all aspects of the craft.

This year I wanted to do a great deal of location photography. I am not just referring to the usual wedding location work or the odd family shoot outside in a park. I am talking about interesting fashion and conceptual photography, utilizing natural light, as well as the Profoto BatPac and D500 studio set I invested in.

As part of several ongoing projects, one of my models came up with a sample of an urban ballerina dancing at night. I loved the idea, and so the Ballerina Project was born. I decided to photograph my model, Tanya van Aswegen, who doubles as a ballerina, in different settings. The first one we picked was to shoot her dancing in a city scene at night. Riani Roets, the genius I use to do makeup and hair, created a look which suited the concept.

Initially I carried with all my equipment, and I got several good shots with the mobile lighting system, as well as the additional speedlight now and again. Later I experimented with pushing the ISO of my camera to 2000 and up, in order to get that grainy, old school feel, especially in monochrome shots.

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I loved the contrast we got with a sweet, very feminine subject, and a modern, industrial background. Working at night also gave the shots a more edgy feel, rather that the normal dreamy and romantic look one often gets when photographic ballerinas.

 

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The greatest challenge when doing away with extra lighting, was trying to catch motion. I wanted to get an effect similar to a panning shot of wildlife, and we were very lucky to get one or two which actually worked.

 

The one shot one had to put some thought into, was the following:

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I wanted to have Tanya pose in the street with minimal ambient light surrounding her, and her white tutu lit up somehow. The solution I came up with was to use battery operated fairy lights and put it under her dress:) As you can imagine, we had several jokes about this!

I learned a great deal during this shoot, and I’m very pleased with the results. Juxtaposing a classical dance next to a modern setting was interesting and a lot of fun. As this is an ongoing project, we have several ideas about the next phase of the Ballerina Project. Watch this space!

 

One thought on “Ballerina Project: Urban Ballerina

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  1. I like your ideas. Don’t understand the whole lighting thing and all that, but the shots are amazingly beautiful. Did you also happen to notice the “bag lady” hanging out there?

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