Follow along with photographer Joe McNally as he goes on location to photograph a belly dancer. Learn about researching a subject, gathering the right gear, transforming a location so that it best complements your subject, and more.
(salsa music) - [Narrator] In this instance the performance artist that we're working with is a belly dancer. Lovely person, very straightforward, had great outfits. Showed me what she could possibly do, configuring herself as a dancer and we were working in a dance studio. But, the dance studio didn't really jive with her, she's de facto exotic, she's got silking and draping and you know, spangles, and all of that sort of stuff.
And we were in a basically, a little girl's ballet recital dance hall, and charm-less comes to mind as a descriptor of that, you know. So, this is one of those situations where I kind of transported the talent into my own world. I got rid of basically the location. Any visual possibilities that are going to spring out of this room I'm going to have to create myself via camera angle, light and interaction with the subject.
You know, the subject promises to be vibrant. So hopefully she'll kind of be larger than life, in certain ways. Costuming, motion, all those things are possible avenues to get the picture away from the ordinary. Cause you just walk in and photograph a dancer in this room, it's going to be utterly ordinary. And especially in an available light picture cause there's just nothing but overhead, bad fluorescent light. So, one of the immediate things we're going to do is get rid of that. Completely x it out of the equation and create our own light and hopefully that will be prettier, better, and give us a leg up on making this location attractive.
At the end of the day I felt a little badly because we rented the dance studio and we could have rented an empty room. But, the dance studio did have advantages, no windows, close the door, shut the lights. You have control. You have blackness. You can light as you see fit. And also to emphasis motion, it's good in that scenario to have that measure of control and be able to dial the motion in via your shutter speed. So we did transport her, as I said, from the reality of this very average-looking dance studio, practice studio into the realm of something that, hopefully indicates the spirit of what she does, in the sense that there's swirling lines and motion that are present.
That emphasis the fluidity of her art form.
- Researching the subject
- Conducting a phone interview
- Essential pieces of gear for a dance shoot
- Working with a photo assistant
- Setting up and changing a shot
- Visualizing the first shot
- Creating a lighting setup that complements your subject
- Modifying the environment
- Dealing with on-set challenges
- Attaching lights to a subject