In this course, follow along with photographer Joe McNally as he is on location for an assignment to photograph a belly dancer. In this video, Joe discusses the importance of researching what style of dance you are to photograph, and how his experience of working with dancers helps inform his photo shoot.
- I don't lay claim to any great knowledge of the dance world to be honest. It's sort of a superficial appreciation I would say. At the same time, I've photographed dance for 35 years and I've worked with some of the best dancers in the world. So you do kind of osmosis or something. You do get a sensibility about the moves, the names of the moves, what is possible for a dancer. I first gravitated towards dance in New York City. I lived in a neighborhood right by Lincoln Center where many dancers every day would practice for ABT and New York City Ballet.
Got to know a young ballerina and she was totally up for the idea of me photographing her. Back in the day, we just walked into Lincoln Center Dance Studios together. She got dressed for her workout and I photographed her in black and white. Didn't ask permission, didn't talk to anybody about it, we just did, you know. Things are much more difficult now obviously. I've photographed covers of dance magazines, Pointe magazine.
I've done dance stories for LIFE magazine and I've had dance components to stories I've done for National Geographic. So it's been a theme, a recurring theme. For me to claim that I am knowledgeable about the dance world would be a misnomer, but an appreciation, photographic appreciation, yes, absolutely, and a knowledge of how to light and to let a dancer work, yes, I do have that, I'm very respectful of what a dancer needs to be, to create a photograph that will be lasting and true.
- 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