Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Pro-Tips on How to Photograph a Dancer Part 2



Pro-Tips on How to Photograph a Dancer
This is the second article on how to photograph a ballerina in motion. You can find part 1 of the article on how to photograph a ballerina here.

3. Placement of the Legs
You always want to pick the shots that present the dancer at the apex of whatever pose, turn or jump he/she is completing. This moment is usually only a quarter of a second in duration, and probably less depending on the movement. For jump shots, such as "leaps," the hamstrings and behind the knees need to be at their fullest extension. You do not want images of a dancer taking off (the moment before reaching the full apex of the jump) or on the descent down where the legs begin to bend as they prepare to touch the ground again. Below is an example of what a good "leap" shot of a dancer should look like with the legs and feet at their fullest extended position: the apex of the jump. Please note there are jump positions where the legs are purposely bent. I have further included an example of this below: a "double stag jump" or "double attitude jump".

A Ballerina and Dance Model in a Graceful Leap
A Ballerina and Dance Model in a Double Stag or Double Attitude Jump
Photos by: David Black and Scott Detweiler 

4. The Upper Body
The upper body for Ballet photography, in particular, should be soft and elegant. The elbows should not be locked, the shoulders should not be up, and the fingers should be delicate with space in between each finger, almost like the petals of a flower. At times, a particular shot is supposed to be angular and edgy, so there will be exceptions. I have included a couple of shots below of each as an example.

A Beautiful Ballerina in Motion Wearing a Flowing Red DressA Beautiful Ballet Dancer in Motion Wearing a Red Dress and Holding Flowing Red Silk Fabric Through the Air

The first image shows the space between each finger: delicate like a flower pedal. The second image shows the elbows which are still engaged but are not stiff, rigid or locked into place.  
Photos by: Christine Wehbe

A Golden Ballerina Posed

In the above photo, the arms are clearly angular and locked into place for a specific stylistic choice. 
Photo by: Jerry Alt

As a quick endnote: I know this is a lot of information to absorb at once. If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to comment below and I can help.

No one likes terrible dance/ballet photography. If you do not know ballet or dance- send the dancer or ballerina a gallery of culled down images so they can help you select final edits that will highlight the best of both worlds: The Dance and The Photography World. In the end, this process benefits both parties, and we all end up happy with beautiful imagery. As a photographer, this will potentially help you to get more paid jobs in the future shooting professional dancers and companies or student performances or recitals. Studios are always in need of promotional images. I also teach a lot of high school juniors and seniors that need beautiful dance photos for company and college auditions! 

I hope you enjoyed this blog- Jennifer.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Pro-Tips on How to Photograph a Dancer Part 1



Pro-Tips on How to Photograph a Dancer
Part 1

In this article, I will briefly highlight some dance and ballet details that any professional dancers will IMMEDIATELY spot in a photo. I will give you a simple guide to some do's and don'ts when it comes to selecting a dance photo to turn into a final edit. Keep in mind that the technique behind our art form is hard to accurately capture! Any live action shot is going to be difficult, even if you feel the image you have is perfect. Ballet has such a specific and beautifully sophisticated rich history behind how the technique has evolved over the past 100's of years. Whether a professional photographer, hobbyists, or aspiring photographer, let me help guide you on how to pick images that highlight the best of both worlds in one great shot! From bottom to top here we go!
Pointe Class Video!

1. Placement of the Feet
You never want to capture a dancer with what (in either a static pose or jump shot) we would call a "sickled" foot. Below you will find a picture of the proper ankle alignment for several critical positions vs. what "sickled" means. In layman's terms, think of this foot position looking similar to a broken ankle. You also want to make sure during static or actions shots you are capturing a dancer when they are entirely "on pointe" over the arches of their feet. You do not want to post images that are a quarter of a second before or after they hit full pointe. Below you will find examples of being entirely over the arches/box of one's pointe shoes vs. the quarter of a second prior. It is imperative to make sure a dancer is over the box of their shoe!

A Ballerina on Pointe Demonstrating Bad Technique A Ballerina Beautifully Placed in her Pointe Shoes

The first image is an example of the quarter of a second prior to when I arrive in full sous-sus position. You do not want to select this image. The second image shows my feet when they have arrived in the proper position for sous-sus with the feet fully articulated over the box of the shoe.

A Professional Ballerina Highlighting Proper Position in Second

The first image is an example of the quarter of a second prior to my feet arriving fully over the box of the shoe in secondé position on relevé. The second photo highlights the proper alignment of the foot and ankle in this position.

A Professional Ballet Dancer Showing Pointe Work

The above photo is an example of being fully over ones pointe shoes. The feet are beautifully arched and pointed.

A Professional Ballet Dancer Highlighting What A Sickled Foot Means

The above photo is an example of a "sickled" foot. Note how the ankle of the working foot essentially looks like it is broken. The supporting foot is not on full relevé over the box of the pointe shoes. This would be an example of a photo that would be no good to use and post. 

2. Placement of the Feet Continued
You always want to make sure the shots you are selecting captures the dancer's feet at their full pointed position. This pertains especially to "jump" shots (although is also reiterating #1 above). When a dancer's foot is not at its full extension, we call this a "biscuit" foot during jump shots or even in positions like tendu. An excellent person to follow on Instagram is @biscuitballerina. Through the use of humor, she highlights this very elegantly. I have highlighted below (with permission from the photographer) a jump shot where my feet are at their fullest extent and a blooper shot where I was coming down from the jump.

A Dance Model Showing a Fully Pointed Foot on Pointe

The first image is an example of my foot when I am just beginning to descend from my jump. Note how the foot is not fully extended. The arch is not engaged and fully pointed. This would be an example of a photo that would not be wise to select for a final edit. In the second photo, the arch of my foot is fully engaged and pointed. I am at the apex of my jump.

Check out part 2 of how to photograph a ballerina!

Friday, April 19, 2019

OSR 2019 The Final Edits

I suppose you are wondering, did I see a ghost?  Did the room just suddenly become colder? Naa, but it was a scary place regardless of if I encountered a ghost or not.  Do you believe in ghosts? Let me know in the comments the most terrifying location you have had a photo shoot. Did you see any ghosts?


Continuing my exciting journey into the depths of Ohio State Reformatory, I wanted to include a final edit from each of the photographers I had the pleasure of shooting with that day. Each image presents a unique perspective and style of editing from the creative minds of the photographers. From fashion to ballet, we covered it all while exploring and shooting throughout the depths of the prison. I also want to give a massive shout out to the makeup artist I worked with as well as the fashion designer whose work I had the chance to model. Both Deanna and Chris are incredibly talented at their craft. Last but not least, a thank you to William Kious who took the time and effort to coordinate the creation of this event. Please enjoy the final edits from all of these diverse artists!


Fashion Photography Shot in Ohio State Reformatory This photo was shot by Ed Sochacki, owner of Agency and Sochacki Studios upstairs in the chapel of this grungy prison. I love this emotionally candid shot of a lost soul peering through the rustic chapel’s doorways where so many searched for hope and belonging themselves. Ed Sochacki, based out of Illinois, is a photographer I have had the pleasure of working with on several occasions both in his studio and at unique locations such as this. Ed has a way of challenging his models to reach new heights in intense settings such as this. The chapel had an eerie energy that easily could spook one to their core, and this was my first glance inside.
Credits, as well as links to where you can view more of Ed’s work, included below!
FB URL: https://www.facebook.com/SochackiStudios/
Website: http://sochackistudios.com/
Instagram: @edsochacki @theagencyapp @sochackistudios
HMUA: Deanna Roberts @makeupvamp (Website MakeupVamp.Com)
Event Coordinator: William Kious
Location: Ohio State Reformatory
Ballerina in the splits in an abandoned buildingThis photo was shot by Eric Sympson, owner of Symplistic Imagery in front of the main chapels archways where the priest would have spoken to the inmates of this inhuman institution. The scary and less known fact about this room is before being converted into a place of worship, it was initially the gallows where prisoners were executed. Being a delicate ballerina in such a heavy space, I felt in tune with my emotions on an acute level during this shot. You can see the remnants of religious imagery behind me as I stretch in the splits looking through the caving in roof up to the sky. I was almost trying to feel and embrace some type of hope and longing the prisons must have felt, needed and searched for while in this space...both during pray and during their final moments of life. Eric’s shooting angle and lens choice for this shot highlighted this overarching theme with grace and pose.

Credits, as well as links to where you can view more of Eric’s work, included below!
Lighting Assistant: Heather Lynn Sympson
HMUA:  Deanna Roberts @makeupvamp (Website MakeupVamp.Com)
FB URL: https://www.facebook.com/SymplisticImagery/
Instagram: @symplisticimagery
Event Coordinator: William Kious             
Location: Ohio State Reformatory
Elegant Fashion Photography This photo was shot by Gary Box, owner of Box Portraits upstairs in the dining room of the warden’s quarters. I enjoy this photo for its stark contrast between the energy and the feel of the grungy and dank prison setting. One can clearly tell the warden of this prison lived in luxury and style which is also highlighted in this beautifully elegant dress created by Chris Carrillo. This area of the prison was a vast juxtaposition to the conditions in which the prisoners of this location were expected to survive in. A later shot by Tami Karisch, will highlight exactly why this prison was shut down for inhumane living conditions. Gary captured the elegance of both the fashion design and the warden’s lifestyle in one single click.

Credits, as well as links to where you can view more of Gary’s work, included below!
Lighting Assistant: Tami Karisch
FB URL: https://www.facebook.com/Box.Portraits/  
Instagram: @boxportraits
Website: http://www.boxportraits.com/
HMUA: Deanna Roberts @makeupvamp (Website MakeupVamp.Com)
Designer: Chris Carrillo @devoidanddeveil
Event Coordinator: William Kious
Location: Ohio State Reformatory
Ballerina en Pointe in a beautiful black dressThis photo was shot by Kevin Bailey, owner of Kevin Bailey Photography on the side back wall behind the pillars of the chapel. I love this photo for how well Kevin captured the emotion and intensity of the moment. When shooting in such a location, one can feel the energy of the past and all the souls that were unfortunate enough to live and die in these very walls. Through my skills as a professional dancer, I tried to highlight both sorrow, angst and a type of madness some of the prisoners may have felt as they grasped at what was lost...their freedom and sanity.

Credits, as well as links to where you can view more of Kevin’s work, included below!
HMUA: Deanna Roberts @makeupvamp (Website MakeupVamp.Com)
FB URL: https://www.facebook.com/kevin.bailey.773
Instagram: @kevin_g_bailey
Event Coordinator: William Kious             
Location: Ohio State Reformatory
This photo was shot by Scott Detweiler, owner of Scott E. Detweiler Photography in the east wing shower room of the prison. I enjoy this photo for how well Scott captured the beauty, power, and elegance of ballet in a place of such deep and profound historical roots that are oppositional to the history behind the art of the ballet. The flow of the fabric behind me alongside the color choices Scott used for this edit represents this well. I have had the pleasure of working with Scott on several occasions at his studio location in Germantown, Wisconsin. This was our first time shooting together on location! I had so much fun and am excited to attend Shutterfest 2019 with Scott as his assistant this coming week.

Professional Ballerina Photo shoot in Prison where Shawshank Redemption was filmed.Credits, as well as links to where you can view more of Scott’s work, included below!
HMUA: Deanna Roberts @makeupvamp (Website MakeupVamp.Com)
FB URL: https://www.facebook.com/scott.detweiler
Instagram: @sedetweiler
Website: https://www.sedetweiler.com/
Event Coordinator: William Kious
Location: Ohio State Reformatory
This photo was shot by Tami Karisch, owner of K Gallery Photography in the upper prisoner cell blocks themselves. Space inside which we were shooting was so terribly small and confined, I am surprised any human would be able to live in such conditions. The lighting and editing style for this shot really portrayed this dark natured form of life the prisoners lived in through art as well as Tami’s ability to capture the essence of a scene in one single click of a shutter. I enjoyed modeling Chris Carrillo’s fashion design for this set as it so perfectly mirrored the intensity in which the prisoners lived. You can feel the energy of the past prisoners still remain in this dormant and abandoned site.

Fashion modeling in prison where Shawshank Redemption was filmed.
Credits, as well as links to where you can view more of Tami’s work, included below!
Lighting Assistant: Gary Box
FB URL: https://www.facebook.com/K-Gallery-Photography
Instagram: @kgalleryphotography
Website: www.thekgallery.com/
HMUA: Deanna Roberts @makeupvamp (Website MakeupVamp.Com)
Designer: Chris Carrillo @devoidanddeveil
Event Coordinator: William Kious
Location: Ohio State Reformatory
All shots include hair and makeup by makeup artist Deanna Roberts owner of MakeupVamp. Deanna was such a joy to work with and is based out of Indiana. I would recommend her in a heartbeat for a fantastic experience as well as a very professional editorial makeup shots. Links to more of her fabulous work in the hair and makeup industry included below!
FB URL: https://www.facebook.com/MakeupVamp/
Website: http://www.makeupvamp.com/
Instagram: @makeupvamp
Several of these shots include dress designs by fashion designer Chris Carrillo. Chris’s compositions are diverse, intricate, unique, elegant and simply put quite beautiful. Links to more of his work in the fashion design field included below!
FB URL: https://www.facebook.com/DevoidandDeveil/
Instagram: @devoidanddeveil
Website: www.devoidanddeveil.com/
Thank you for taking the time to read and subscribe to my blog post. My next adventure will be at Shutterfest 2019! Stay tuned for the next big blog about the behind-the-scenes of Shutterfest 2019.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Ohio State Reformatory 2019



Shawshank Redemption Rustic Cell Blocks Have you ever seen the movie, "The Shawshank Redemption"? The 1994 award winning film was created in Mansfield, Ohio at the Ohio State Reformatory. The history behind this building is extraordinary and having had the opportunity to create art in this historical location was both profound as well as supernatural. I have never found myself to be superstitious until experiencing the unspoken energy of this prison. Do you believe in ghosts?

You hear first-hand stories from the guards about the history behind the prison. The long cell blocks were in appalling conditions and seemed to extend for miles housing four prisoners to each tiny cell, even forced to share a bunk two on top two on the bottom. You hear rumors as well...torture...prisoners that acted out being housed next to the boiler until they essentially dried out to death...prisons who were noted to have escaped but in actuality were buried under the prisons basement floors. The bizarre fact behind this matter is, the prison was build in 1886 but most of these stories of neglect, abusive and severe misconduct were noted towards the 1950s and onward. Finally, the prison was closed down in 1990 by federal court order for "overcrowding and inhumane conditions".

Dirty Ballet Pointe Shoes Warn InAbandoned Building Location Photography of a BallerinaThe juxtaposition of being a ballerina in a gorgeous white tutu that resembles, "Waltz of the Snowflakes" from the Nutcracker seemed to catch the eyes of all as I danced through the eerily haunted and filthy prison. By the end of the shoot, my pointe shoes were completely destroyed, covered in the remnants of dirt, bird, rat, bat feces and of course history itself.

The History Behind Ohio Sate Reformatory The destruction of my pointe shoes and beautiful tutu was entirely worth it, however. I had the opportunity to meet photographers, models, designers, and hair and makeup artists from around the country all extremely talented and passionate about the creation of art. The opportunity to create powerful artwork with such individuals among such extreme decay was an experience of a lifetime. The friendships and bonds forged from this experience are priceless.

This was an unforgettable journey. Stay tuned for my next blog that will contain some of the final images from the depths of humanities most renown failures in the American Justice System.

Pro-Tips on How to Photograph a Dancer Part 2

Pro-Tips on How to Photograph a Dancer Part 2 Pointe Class Video 2 This is the second article on how to photograph a ballerina in...