I have such a big admiration for dancers in general, but with ballet dancers. There's something incredibly powerful about how strong they are, about how poised and controlled their movements are, and the willingness to keep going over and over, especially when trying to get the shot during a photoshoot.

I had a chance to work with the ever so gorgeous Natasha, a ballet dancer based in JHB. We actually did 2 photoshoots within the span of a month, as her shoot was meant to be done in PTA with the iconic purple Jacaranda trees that we often see in South Africa, but due to a time issue that was delayed and we did her first shoot at Gold Reef City casino, which worked just as well. So during this talk you will see images from both her photoshoots. We hope you like them like we do :D :D :D!

I really enjoy working with this girl. When it comes with dancing we need to work hard to get my timing in sync with the dancers time. Plus make sure the flash is actually hitting the model and all the settings are correct. So we often doing the same jump a bunch of times to be sure it looks awesome, and mainly make sure the technique shown in the dance move is correct. So im glad dancers are willing to do it "one more time" like a hundred times HAHA.

With dance photography, to me its most important to get the timing right. With any dance style there is always correct technique. Your photo can look amazing, lights and colours are awesome, but if the technique is incorrect, then its a bad bad image, and most dancers wont like the shot nor show it to anyone. Toes being pointed, lines from legs looking right, hands and so on, all contributes to making a dance shot work. I often ask the dancer if this is right or not and can we redo it. As much as i know a lot about whats right n wrong, the dancers knows more. So ask!

ok now for gear and what we did to light the model.

With dancing we always shoot with very high shutter speeds. from 1/800th to about 1/2500th. You would be surprised to see how much motion blur you get on feet when they jump up and fling their legs  to position. So we used speedlights which are able to do HSS. We used 2 yongnuo yn500ex flashes mounted to one bracket and triggered wirelessly using a trigger. This allows the flash to sync over the usual 1/200th max sync speed.

For the bridge shoot We used a normal shoot through white umbrella to diffuse the light, but not too much to take away much of the distance from the flash. 

For the shoot with the Jacaranda trees we shot during 11am sunlight which is very bright, but luckily we were then easily able to use the high shutter speed along with the flash. We left the flashes bare, no umbrella this time. We just covered the flash head with wax paper which just diffused it a tiny bit, but maximised the distance the light would travel in bright sun.

Gear set:

  • Canon 5d mkiii
  • Canon 50mm f1.4
  • Canon16-35mm f2.8 L
  • 2x yongnuo yn500ex speedlights
  • yongnuo 622c triggers
  • light stand
  • wax paper
  • white shoot through umbrella
  • peak design slide strap
  • kata backpack


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    Craig Anderson (Foto_fotography) Assistant


    Heres some more photos! Until next time!