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Shoot What You Know. Know Thy Enemies.


One of the things that we are focused on in the RC household is Dance. My wife Jenn is a ballerina, and taught all sorts of dance at a couple of schools in Long Island for 17 years. As much of what we did back home was focused on Dad, I figured that I could be a better partner by tagging along and making some frames during her major events.

Yeah, that sucked. I got my start in doing portraiture, cutting my chops in a photo studio, with Flashes. Now, I was at an ‘event’. I was at the mercy of the lights, looking for moments in an art I had little actual experience in, with choreography I didnt understand. I always smile and wonder how much Jenn must’ve muttered under her breath when I showed her pictures that I was so proud of, that she just out and out thought sucked. I mean, she had been following McNally’s work just as I had.. we just didnt know that about one another yet (that’s another really cool story I’ll share another time).

I figured, the best way for me to get better, I needed to do two things. First, I needed to immerse myself in the discipline that I wanted to shoot. I spent more time than I care to count researchign dance online learning the lingo- like what Fouetté is and what to shoot on it, or a Grand Jeté is.

The next thing I needed to do is work on -what- would be interesting to shoot doing the dance. I started looking at things like Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Giselle and just become familiar with the stories. As I watched more and more dance, and watched Jenn do her thing, I learned a lot more about the choreography of things. As the choreography started making more sense, -what- to shoot got clearer. As that cleared up, I was able to get better shots.

So spend some time. Know Thy Enemy.. you’d be surprised as to how much better you’ll do with your images.

One comment

  1. Good advice RC (really, really like the black and white shots). I (together with my partner Tricia) work mainly in portraiture and find that a similar attitude towards observation pays dividends. We always try to research each sitter before meeting them. On the shoot we watch them intently, looking for mannerisms and gestures that are particular to them…it’s all about trying to gain an insight and understanding into the subject and thereby hopefully get a better shot. Would be keen to hear what you think of our work if you have a moment.

    PS really enjoy D-Town TV and Photoshop User TV

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