Stephen Petronio Company performed Stephen Petronio’s Locomotor/Non Locomotor on August 6, 2015 at Heckscher Park as part of Huntington Arts Council summer festival. All photographs copyright of Darin Reed – Shining Moment Photo.
I only know two things about dance – One, I’m not very good at it. And two, I absolutely love to photograph those who are! I believe dance is the ultimate form of human artistic expression. It is power, grace, gesture, motion and emotion – combined. Through dance, the performers tell us a story and take us to a world they have carefully crafted with their minds and bodies. Thoughtfully choreographed, well lit and set to the right music, dance is magical.
Recently, Stephen Petronio and his dancers performed on the Harry Chapin Stage in Huntington, New York’s Heckscher Park. I had the opportunity to photograph the show for the Huntington Arts Council.
The performance was imaginative and the dancers superb. I found it interesting to listen to Stephen describe his creative process in a post show Q & A. He described how moving the performers forward and backward through time, helped develop his narrative. How ironic I thought, as my role that night was to freeze time with my camera. The interplay of performance, imagination, technology and time, all used to create art.
Dancers work incredibly hard at their craft. They practice and train as much as most professional athletes. They seek perfection in their performance for themselves, their fellow performers and their audience. When I’m photographing a dancer, I strive to reward their efforts by capturing the moments that they’ve worked so hard to create. I’m shooting for them. It’s never easy, as these moments come fast and are fleeting by nature but when captured, I find them very rewarding. I hope the dancers do as well.
The dancers on stage may not feel it but I often sense a collaboration between them and my lens. There is a rhythm to photographing dance. A connection between photographer and performer. It’s there…I can feel it.
My focus is always to capture the peak of action as the performers fly across the stage but I also look for the more intimate moments that help convey the story the dancers are telling. It’s these moments, often overlooked, that make for really powerful images. Look for them next time you watch a dance performance. They’ll be there.
Everyone always wants to know the technical stuff on how I shot my images, so I’ll tell you. Nikon D4S camera, ISO 6400 – 8000, 85mm f1.8 lens(set at f2.2 – f2.8), 1/500th to 1/800th second shutter speed and underexpose by 3/4 to 1 full stop. Make sure the exposure on the dancer’s skin and costume is correct. Let the background go dark (or light – depending on the set). Knowing all this will get you close but connecting with the performers and allowing yourself to really see the show and listen to the story they are telling visually, is what will set your photos apart.
To see more images from this performance, please visit my website.
Darin Reed – Shining Moment Photo
Photo 1: Nicholas Sciscione, Joshua Tuason, Gino Grenek, Davalois Fearon
Photo 2: Nicholas Sciscione
Photo 3: Nicholas Sciscione
Photo 4: Stephen Petronio
Photo 5: Barrington Hinds
All photos copyright of Darin Reed – Shining Moment Photo.