Last summer I took three dancers to Grand Mere State Park for a group session and called it Dancers On The Nature Trail. It was so much fun that I decided to do it again this summer. It can be tough to coordinate a group session around multiple busy schedules. I had five dancers lined up for this session but only two of them ended up being able to make it. But that’s ok! We still had fun and got some great photos!
My shooting style is very go-with-the-flow. When working with nature and natural light, I find it’s best not to go into the session with a specific course of action. This goes for any session – not just dancers. Once we’re on location, I look for the light — natural light isn’t something you can really plan. Last year’s session was rainy and misty and somewhat dark. This year the sky was clear, the sun was bright and we ended the session with a beautiful sunset! Both occasions required a lot of spontaneity and a search for the perfect spot in the perfect light.
Jordan Matter has a video workshop called “Finding Serendipity” that follows him around NYC during one of his shoots. I enjoyed watching it because so much of his shooting process is similar my own (though the environment is completely different!). Looking for the light and learning to quickly recognize when something isn’t working and move on to the next idea before you waste too much time…. At one point, he turned to the camera and said, “Three bad ideas means I’m closer to the good idea.” He said this after he made three attempts in three different locations to get a great shot but failed. It was a nice reminder that success isn’t getting it right the first time, it’s not quitting before you get it right. It’s a good, almost 14-minute video to watch even if you’re not into dance photography.
Something I did differently in this year’s group session from last year is Headshots. I didn’t go into this session planning to include headshots — I was planning to focus only on dance poses and jumps — but one thing (amongst many) that’s great about this particular photo session is that it’s MINE. I do this one for myself, not for a client, which means I can do pretty much anything I want… and when the light hit just right, I HAD to get those headshots! It was too perfect! Vera (dark hair) is going into her Junior year in high school and Kellen (blonde hair) is going into the 8th grade. I love how the headshots capture their very different personalities. Kellen is very comfortable in front of the camera, kinda like “BOOM, here I am!”, while Vera is much shyer. Both girls are beautiful, super sweet and a joy to work with! Something else I did differently was shooting the dancers together every now and then rather than only solo shots. I did go into the session with this idea in mind but it ended up working out even better than I expected because these two girls happen to dance at the same studio so they know each other quite well, which made for quite a few fun, silly pictures as well as some beautiful ones.
Once again, I had a great time with this session and I’m already looking forward to doing it again hopefully next summer!