The Firedancer Shoot

My buddy from work Adam had asked me if I could take pictures of a friend of his – a firedancer. I’ve been looking to shoot a firedancer for a while.. but I really wanted to have a diferent look to it. I was looking for a cool city scenario. Something with a little environment. A little grit – so to speak. I did scouting for several days and outlined shoots on napkins to try to get the idea out of the way. I knew that she would have a limited amount of time, so I wanted to make sure I made the most of it. I prepared for the shoot for several days.. checking gear, writing notes.. This was something I wanted to do that was going to rock.

That afternoon, i’d get a phone call. In short: I had a lot less time than I thought, we weren’t using the locations I had scouted, and we were going to a friend’s house to shoot on the beach.

Begrudgingly, I packed the gear in the car and headed out for the shoot. As i’m driving, i’m thinking to myself “OK.. we’ll make this work.. something cool will come out of it.. just go over your gear and your idea..” I knew I was going to shoot on the beach, and that was familiar territory for me now. I knew what my lights needed to be at, and what I was using.

I got to the location with my buddy Erik Valind in tow. Looking at the sky, it looked like it was going to open up in no time. There was a lot of wind – pretty much nixing any idea of shooting with fire (Safety issues for the model.. don’t want a flame jumping on her face). With a car full of gear, I chatted with Erik about bringing -just- what we needed out to shoot with. We made the call in the car, and got the gear ready.

I went out to the beach with the model and Erik and we made about 6 minutes worth of frames.

Firedancer / Bellydancer at Sunset

Erik turns to me and sniffs with his nose.

“Dude.. its gonna rain – now”

No sooner than he said that – the heavens opened up and a flood of water came down. We ran as fast as we could and packed into the car to review the shoot. Thankfully- there were a couple of frames that I thought would work.

I’m going to give the shoot another chance at a later date.. but it did highlight some cool lessons:

1. Be malleable – Just because your idea isn’t being used, doesn’t mean that a new idea wont come up and get you.
2. Know thy gear – had we fiddle faddled with the gear and brought out excessive stuff, we would have been drying a ton of wet gear instead of looking at the shot.
3. Conceptualize before you get to the shoot – This will save you time.
4. If it says it -may- rain.. it will. At bare minimum, double stack some shopping bags and put them in your pocket. better yet.. make sure you have a weather housing.. you never know when you’ll need it!


  1. My favourite thing to point out about weather is that the stations always quote P.O.P. which is probability of precipitation. Many think something like 10% means there’s a 10% chance of rain – but really it means 10% of the area will DEFINITELY get rain. That’s 100% chance of rain… somewhere.

    And most likely – it’s gonna be where you’re doing your shoot.

  2. Great photo and tips, thanks! I’m trying to figure out how many light sources you used (one or two is my guess).

    At any rate, I’m curious as to what ideas and locations you initially had in mind for the shoot.

    Keep the posts coming!

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