Scenes Around Jackson Photoblog

Front Porch Dancers @ Belhaven College (9.13.09)

Posted in 2009, Behind The Scenes, black and white, Film, Photo Post by William Patrick Butler on October 2, 2009

dancers fascinate me.

the way that they turn their bodies into a form of art that’s always moving and each movement has a purpose.

i just think it’s wonderful

so, when i was invited by Jamie Weems to be part of the Mobiles art show i jumped at the chance.

the theme that they asked of the photographers they invited was to show work that showed music and/or dance.

after the art opening there would be a dance performance by the Front Porch Dancers, dancing to live music by Jamie Weems and the Strange Pilgrams.

as i’ve mentioned before, i’m a big fan of Annie Leibovitz‘s work, esp the work she did when she documented three weeks with Mark Morris and Mikhail Baryshnikov, photographing them and their dancers as they worked to constuct a new show.

i wanted to do photos like that.  so i contacted Krista and Erin of FPD and asked if it would be possible if i photographed them rehearsing for the performance.

they said sure and after facebooking back and forth for a bit, we finally settled on a day.

and so, on a sunday afternoon in september i made my way up to the Bitsy Irby Visual Arts and Dance Center on the campus of Belhaven College to get to shooting

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (29 of 66)

when i had the idea to shoot them while rehearsing, i also knew two things

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (1 of 66)

it was going to be black and white

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (2 of 66)

and i was going to shoot them with film, using two different cameras.

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (4 of 66)

the first was my Holga, which i used to shoot them outside with. (which ended up being the shots i used for the show. but if you wanna see those, you should have been at the show) 😉

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (5 of 66)

and the second, was with my “ole workhorse”, the camera that i learned how to shoot with, my Canon AE-1 Program

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (6 of 66)

all the shots for this post are from the Canon, after we moved inside to one of the dance studios

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (7 of 66)

for the photographers out there, i used 4 rolls of Ilford HP5 400 film, shooting wide open with a 50mm at f/1.8 at 1/60 for my shutter speed

Front Porch Dancers (vertical) (9.13.09) (1 of 2)

for one of the 4 rolls, i switched out my 50mm lens and shot a roll using a wide-angle 28mm

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (8 of 66)

i was still shooting wide open, but the 28mm only opens up to f/2.8

Front Porch Dancers (vertical) (9.13.09) (2 of 2)

which you can kinda tell, but i really enjoyed shooting wide

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (10 of 66)

i don’t know, i kinda wished i’d shot more with the 28mm

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (13 of 66)

(man, those ladies are strong)

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (14 of 66)

shooting with the 28mm meant more group shots

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (16 of 66)

(hmm, seems the scanner clipped this one…)

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (17 of 66)

(heh, you can see me in the mirror, making the shot)

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (18 of 66)

i could have shot at a higher shutter speed, but the reason why i kept it at 1/60 is because i wanted there to be some movement in the photos

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (19 of 66)

it was really interesting watching them dance and rehearse

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (20 of 66)

seeing how they all worked together to get the motions just right

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (21 of 66)

it really is a unique art form

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (23 of 66)

it lives in the moment

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (24 of 66)

and after it’s done, there’s nothing left behind, but the memory of it

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (25 of 66)

because, unless you video taped it, that moments will never happen again

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (26 of 66)

(hmm, i really don’t know why the scanner clipped some and not the others…)

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (27 of 66)

but even video taping it isn’t the same as seeing it live

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (28 of 66)

i think that’s why dance is so hard to photograph

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (30 of 66)

and i don’t mean hard in the technical sense of film speeds, shutter speeds, and lens

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (31 of 66)

but hard as in, well, like Annie Leibovitz said:

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (32 of 66)

“I begin to understand that dance can’t be photographed, or even filmed for that matter, it’s an art that lives in the air”

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (35 of 66)

dance is motion, that energy of movement

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (36 of 66)

photography is capturing a moment that you see and you want to share with others

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those can end up being two very conflicting principals

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (39 of 66)

but it’s still worth doing

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (41 of 66)

because sometimes you catch true moments in the midst of movement

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (42 of 66)

which, i guess, is true of all photography

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (43 of 66)

so, maybe dance and photography aren’t conflicting at all 🙂

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (45 of 66)

(quick breather before getting back to it)

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (46 of 66)

(i really love this shot)

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (48 of 66)

it was really cool, watching them work together

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (51 of 66)

because even though each one had their own way of moving

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (53 of 66)

they used that to make something more than the sum of its parts

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (54 of 66)

it really was a treat watching it all start to come together

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (55 of 66)

i’m the guy that loves getting DVDs just to listen to the behind the scenes commentary

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (56 of 66)

i love seeing how other creative people put their projects together

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (57 of 66)

love seeing how their minds work

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (58 of 66)

i just find it really fascinating

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (59 of 66)

i really have to thank the ladies for letting me photograph them

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it couldn’t have been easy

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (62 of 66)

having somebody shooting you while trying to figure out whole new dance choreography

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so, many thanks ladies

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it was really great seeing the finished product at the show 🙂

Front Porch Dancers (9.13.09) (65 of 66)

dancers fascinate me.

that’ll wrap it up for this week.

make sure you check out the Front Porch Dancers website!

and, if any of you Front Porch ladies are reading this, i’d love to get together and shoot ya’ll again one day 🙂

next week, a peek behind the music with the Girls in The Band 😉

have a good one everybody

EDIT: if you want to see a video of one of the dance numbers at the show, click here 🙂

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2 Responses

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  1. Valerie said, on October 2, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Thanks, Pat! They are fantastic! We would love to have you come shoot again. 🙂

    • William Patrick Butler said, on October 3, 2009 at 11:53 pm

      glad you dug ’em valerie! 🙂

      and when i get the camera i wanna used fixed, we can set a time for the next shoot 🙂


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