There is nothing more beautiful than a dancer in motion. Dancers seem to defy gravity. Their body seems to take on the fluid motion of the music. The magic doesn’t stop there. When a photographer snaps a photograph that catches the beauty of dance it is just as magical. They grab that moment in time and preserve it for the generations to admire and appreciate.
We spoke to professional photographers to get their input on how to capture the movement of dance. We will share some of these tips with you, now.
Take the time to talk to the dancers
One of the biggest mistakes a photographer can make is arriving at the last minute and just start taking pictures. Like celebrities, dancers do not like a camera in their personal space snapping away without permission. Even if you have implied permission, the dancers deserve the respect of being spoken to and listened to. They know what you are there for. If you want them to work with you, respect them.
Do the footwork
If you are not familiar with the style of dance you are about to see, you will not get the best shots. Consider this. A person pays their money, puts on their finest evening attire, and settle in for entertainment. The curtain rises and the lights go up and they hear beautiful music. Then suddenly there is a change, the dancers are moved into position and before their eyes, the stage comes alive.
If you are really serious about being a dance (or athletic) photographer, think outside of the box. Go to some dance studios. Get an idea of the energy that goes into learning dance. Understand the tools of their trade. In the world of a dancer, shoes, leotards, and tights are serious requirements. Browse quality dance sites like Just For Kix for a handle on quality dancewear. This will change the way you see dancers.
Get familiar with the dance style
The person in the audience can sit in awe. They can catch their breath and feel the electricity moving in the air. But, the photographer cannot. The photographer must work within the bounds of the performance. They must look into the current and grab it. They must find the skill to catch the uncatchable and to touch the untouchable.
Change up the angle
Some photographers get comfortable in their position and hesitate making a change. You cannot do justice to the art of dance if you do not have the courage to move and take a chance. Sure, you may get some lousy shots. But, it will all be worth it if you get that one shot captures the magic.
Use a tripod
Whenever possible, use a tripod. This allows you to get shots without movement and blurring the shot. You can also use the tripod to take long exposure photos. This will take some practice, and eventually, you will be able to make the most of the shot in front of you.
Learn the art of long exposure photography
Long exposure photography is an art in itself. It is under-utilized and understated. It is worth the effort to learn this skill. When you conquer this skill, you will be in an elite class.
Lighting, focus, genres, take it where you find it
Photography is a marathon, not a sprint. You will learn about photography. You will learn the techniques. But photography is not a learned skill set. It can always get better. There is always something new. There is always a unique view. Everything you see through the lens, someone has seen before, but how you interpret the view is what makes it unique.
As a society, we see the art but often ignore the artist. We love the musicians but forget the album recorders. Photographers capture moments in time. They put color to our memories. Long after the music has ceased, we can view the photograph and be transformed. The world is filled with great dancers and great photographers. It is those who are not satisfied with just being great today who will be the ground-breakers of tomorrow.