After being in lockdown for what seemed like an eternity, I was chuffed to bits to finally get out, shooting again. Although I could have done this shoot in a studio setting, I really wanted to get outside on location. This shoot was to give my dancers some fresh new headshot and portfolio images, in preparation for auditions beginning again. We chose Williamson Park in Lancaster, only an hour or so’s drive from our Cumbria Base, which has loads of options for settings and a couple of car parks on site. We didn’t factor in lugging the kit back up the hill to the car park at the end of the shoot, but I guess it was good exercise!
The most important thing for a dancer’s headshot is that they stand out, so I decided to begin the shoot with the headshots on the medium format camera. There are a few advantages to using medium format. Firstly, the extra detail. Every single sparkle in your eye will be recorded! Secondly, the increased dynamic range… Meaning the colours in the image will be far more vibrant. Thirdly, the shallower depth of field available. This is the ‘blurring’ of the background. Combined with the colours and detail, the dancer will really ‘pop’ in the image.
I mentioned the shallow depth of field, although it’s not necessary for a standard headshot, I wanted to really push it to the extreme and create an image where only the eyes were super sharp. I had my model, Bethan, give me a really intense look right down the lens as I focused just on her eyes. The result was pretty dramatic!
We then went on to the portfolio stuff. After having a quick scout round for a suitable spot, we found a relatively quiet area next to a pond that had a fountain and a really cute bridge over it. It had been drizzling very lightly but the rain had stopped and the sun was out by the time we were shooting. Although some dance photographers don’t light on a location shoot, we always do. It ensures that we have complete control over the light (we aren’t relying on a nice sunny day), we can give the same shoot different ‘looks’, the colours are always well saturated and it ensures that our dancers always pop in the image. No matter how beautiful the surrounding, our dancers always stand out.
I had advised the girls to bring a couple of outfits, so we could get two different looks. They all brought pointe shoes and tights for a formal look and hoodies and trackies with trainers for a commercial/street look. All the girls are advanced 1 level ballet so they were confident on pointe shoes. As a side note, the pointe shoes they brought were either old or ones they wouldn’t need again so they didn’t mind using them on the hard flooring.
One of the advantages of a shoot with me, is the fact I always bring a second photographer, Michael. (I kind of have to, he drives!) As well as being my driver/assistant/kit carrier, oh, and husband! He’s also
an amazing photographer. During this shoot he had a couple of creative ideas, using the reflections in the lake that he wanted to shoot so the girls got a two for one deal and he took some images too!!