Ever since I discovered the photography of Joe McNally I’ve said “I want to photograph a ballerina”. Really for the last 5 years or so I’ve had that thought in the back of my head, and this year I finally did something about it. After a post on the Bailward Photography Facebook page, I was contacted by a fellow photographer whose daughter went to the Fraser Valley Academy of Dance (FVAD), who put me in contact with Carolyne, who was possibly more excited about doing a shoot with their dancers than I was.
The dancers were, and I can’t say this enough, amazing. These girls are between thirteen and sixteen and can fling themselves what feels like twelve feet in the air, as many times as you ask them to, and each time is exactly the same.
Throughout the shoot the owners of FVAD, Carolyne and John were great, giving advice to the photographers on when we got a shot that would look good to other dancers, suggesting poses that would look good for our needs, using some sort of foreign dancer language.
“Try doing a second position with a sauté and make it allongé, then move from fifth into échappè.”
I could be wrong, it could have been icelandic, but all I know is the girls went from gorgeous pose to gorgeous pose, giving us all an amazing variety of photographs.
One of Cynthia’s great talents is thinking outside the box, and she’s wonderful at using intentional camera movement to create motion in her photographs. I saw some of the results she was getting and immediately stole this idea wholesale, putting my own spin (pardon the pun) on it.
Don’t think that these were all ladies here. Anton is one of the instructors at FVAD and in addition to being a really nice guy and a great dancer, I’m pretty sure he was made of pure muscle. I’d love to tell you how I spent hours photoshopping his muscles on or making his abs pop, but no, he just looks like this. I’d jokingly say I hate him for it, but when you put the hard work he has into your art like he does…
The day really stressed to me the importance of personal projects and shooting just for me. The dance academy was amazingly accommodating for us, and the dancers were very patient with us, and the end result is I have a ton of amazing images that I’m very proud of, and I proved to myself that I could set up an event like this and have it work wonderfully.