Monday, November 9, 2009

Dancing Damsels

Some of the pictures from this shoot were featured in the Sunday Observer Magazine on 1st November 2009 (online version here and here).

One of our dear friends, Chathu, is a dancer of extra ordinary talent and experience. She has been dancing professionally for more than 14 years and has performed in over 20 countries worldwide. She has her own dance troupe, Ethnic Dance Studio, who perform at corporate events and shows but this year she wanted to do her own show to showcase the troupe’s talents. 

As part of the promotional material for the event, she wanted a few shots to be taken of troupe and herself and as luck would have it, I was in Sri Lanka at that time to help out. I was quite nervous about doing a “professional” shoot – it would be the first time that I will be “directing” live models (other than for my wife) and I had to ensure that I had at least a few “winners” that they can use for their newspaper articles, promotional leaflets, souvenirs and website. So the pressure was on - I was not sure whether I was going to be able to do it but I was sure going to try.

The shoot was challenging for me on many fronts
1)     There were 5 dancers for the group shots and I had to ensure that ALL their faces could be seen properly. This was a bit difficult with all the arms and heads twisting around the frame while they went in to their dance poses! More often then not, by the time I had positioned them and taken a shot, the models would have moved ever so slightly to a position where the face was in shadow or was covered by another hand. So I had to take several frames quite quickly and I had to keep moving around or moving them around to get the proper shot

2)     As you can see from the pictures, the poses were not the “run of the mill” ones you get in normal portraits. In order to show them in their element, they had to be in certain dance poses which required quite an effort on their part. It was quite difficult for them to stand still when they were half bent or had one leg in the air and I had to take my shots quickly before the moment was lost or one of the dancers moved.

3)     Even though I had read up quite a bit on lighting, it’s altogether a different ball game when it comes to doing it for real!!! The shoot was done at the Hilton Hotel and balancing the lighting in some of the indoor shots was a pretty big challenge. Even trying to get the out door lighting, especially the ones against the sun, were quite difficult.

As stated above lighting was a pretty big challenge and even though I was using a shoot through umbrella and a voice activated light stand (my wife Michelle) it was quite difficult to get some of the shots without hard shadows which I really hated doing.

The final part of the shoot was this particular dancer in a peacock costume. After taking some shots to be used for the promotion, I used a nearby chair to give a bit of a different “fashion shoot” look to the image.

With all the challenges, the whole shoot turned out to be quite fun. Highlight for my wife was when I lay down on the ground near the stairs to try and get a shot with a different view point – she found that quite hilarious. We had a few strange looks from the guests and one of the guests actually wanted to take a shot with the dancers :D We also came across another photographer (together with 3 – yes three – voice activated stands and full bridal retinue) doing a wedding shoot.

Had good fun doing it and it was a good learning experience. 

These and a few other pics of  the shoot can be found here 


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