Had super fun last week – photographing promotional images for Joburg Ballet’s upcoming premiere of La Bayadere.
The images will be used as part of the program and made available for media. It was certainly one of the more complicated shoots I’ve done – for a number of reasons. First – lots of people in front of the camera – from individual principal dancers – to the Corps de Ballet including 18 ballerina’s in white tutu’s dancing the Kingdom of the Shades scene – an iconic scene from the history of ballet. Secondly – not a whole lot of time available with these brilliant folks. The dancers are currently extremely busy rehearsing – not just for La Bayadere but also for Nutcracker. So the “camera” time I got with them was fairly limited and measured in minutes. Thirdly – the beautiful sets for the ballet are still in production – so the effort would have to include some composite work which is not my favored approach but definitely necessary if you need to create an image of something ahead of “it” actually existing.
As a general rule – I tend to obsess about planning a shoot in advance – mapping out lighting strategies in great details. I know it’s a rather futile effort of planning – because reality usually turns out to be somewhat different. Anyway – I ended up using quite a few targeted lights to create a dabbled effect, lots of blue gels and even a smoke machine to emphasize the feeling of a mystical, moonlit night in the forest. The dancers look stunning as always – and they received tremendous art direction from both choreographer and ballet mistress. An unusual request often heard on this shoot: “Don’t smile – remember: you are dead!”