Dancing Photographer

June 12, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Dancers from the Boca Ballet Theatre

Most people visualize a photographer taking photos as being very still which makes sense since it's obviously required to get sharp images. That might be true in most cases but in dance photography I find myself moving a lot to follow the motion in order to achieve simultaneous sharpness and blur, which give the images a very dynamic feel. I try to capture sharpness in the core of the image which is usually the head and the upper body, while the limbs will have motion blur.

It's not panning like you would use in trying to capture a runner or a vehicle. It's actually harder, because with panning you can still remain fairly stable by rotating at your waist while keeping the camera level. To follow the motion of dance performers requires sudden motions that generate at your shoulders and are fine tuned by your wrists and could go in any direction, up, down or sideways. In order to be more stable I usually lean against a surface, in this case I used the edge of the stage. There is no way to do this with a tripod (at least for me), and get dynamic movement and compositions. This method also requires a ton of quick manual bracketing of shutter speeds and pushing the ISO to high values (800 to 1600).

I got a workout shooting this event. I felt like I was dancing too, and at the end I was soaked in sweat just like the dancers.


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