My Favorite Dance Portraits from Summer 2012
I had been dreaming for a few of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival seasons about making portraits of the incredible dancers, choreographers and artists that come to the Pillow each week. In 2011 I finally had an idea and in 2012 I put it into action: the Natural Light Studio.
There is a deck right behind the Ted Shawn Theatre where dance photographer John Lindquist used to make images. I was lucky that the space was available for me to set up a simple but effective natural light soft box and backdrop.
It was my big ambition to make 1,000 portraits that summer – a combination of artists and Pillow people - and although that was ridiculously ambitious, I did make over 200 portraits between mainstage companies, School participants, faculty, Inside/Out artists, staff, interns, my daughter…
During the 2012 season, I was a faculty member for a dance photography workshop at the festival. The workshop was directed by dance photographer Rose Eichenbaum, and she asked all of us to describe our photography in one word. I thought a lot about it, and the word I chose was joyous. That’s my approach to all of my photography, both dance and weddings. I’m looking to have fun and see the joy inside of people. That doesn’t mean I want big cheesy smiles—I want to capture the joy created by being who you are.
I wanted every person I invited into the studio to have the space to emerge, to really be seen for who they are. In the spirit of the Pillow, in the spirit of creativity, in the spirit of collaboration, and in the spirit of making art together.
Other people have picked up on the fact that I always say let’s “make” pictures. I don’t “take” pictures. It’s semantics, but it’s true—when I work with dancers, choreographers, brides, friends…we “make” something together. And that’s what I felt like I achieved this summer in my Natural Light Studio. Whether dancing or more pedestrian, I was approaching the sessions in the same way, and different people brought different things to the table.
I’ve received a lot of feedback from this project, and much of it was along the lines of what Doug Elkins’ group commented on Facebook:
“This is amazing!! Thank you for capturing our obsessive love for each other.”
“Endless love for the Fraus and the magic that Christopher has captured so beautifully. Holy Moly.”
“Wow Christopher. This totally captured the moment. I love!”
“What a beautiful and fitting representation of our company. Thank you!”
Nothing makes me happier than to get that kind of response. =) I’d say this summer was a success. And I can’t wait to expand on the project this season.