It all started with a photograph my friend Ed Sweeney posted online. The image was of a former industrial space in San Francisco. It radiated authenticity. When I inquired further, it neither took Ed long to put me in touch with its new tenant, nor for the latter to offer me this space for a photo shoot. This is how I met Amichi Amar. Time was short as Ami planned to have the space occupied by a variety of entrepreneurs designing products that combine technology with art.
Not only was the space attractive, but I also had the opportunity to shoot with performers from a contemporary dance company I had not worked with before: Jodi Lomask, who is artistic director for Capacitor, was in the process of creating a new piece with a set of original costumes.
Contemporary dancers often perform barefoot. Hence the floor deserved an attention all of its own.
When setting up for a dance shoot, I like getting on location early. The hour I had planned went by so quickly that I had time for just a few test shots using the stroller Jodi brought along before Ismael Acosta started levitating into the air in front of my camera.
A corner of the space had this beautiful rustic hardwood floor. Michelle Ellis has no fear of splinters when inducing the inner tubes of her skirt to perform a dance of their own around her waist.
When Jodi told me the dresses would be made of inner tubes, I took a glance around my garage. My eyes rested on my son’s bike... I removed the tire, blew up the inner tube on its own around the wheel and I had a prop ready. Micah Walters took the ride, as stoic as a gladiator entering the arena.
When shooting on-location, improvisation plays an important role in making the most of the space. This was no exception. This floor was previously occupied by a painting company. One article they left behind was and industrial sized scale. This is one such object to trigger inspiration. The dancers would take turns, explore its shape, test the various grips and ledges and strike a few poses. This results in many images.
While iterating through these takes, I often ask the dancer to stop somewhere to correct the lights a little, refine the image, and maybe ask an acolyte to throw the stripe of the skirt into the air and do the move again until we have that one shot.
Maggie Powers - weightless.
Micah Walters - outrunning his weight
Working with choreographers or artistic directors is often a different experience from directing a conceptual shoot. They often bring another perspective to the motion or the instant in time recorded on camera. While I may often be looking at the apogee of a dance movement, Jodi would be interested in capturing the inflection point from one motion into the next. This is a fleeting moment often difficult to identify, but which can results in images conveying great emotion when captured well.
Micah Walters, Michelle Ellis, Maggie Powers, Jodi Lomask and Ismael Acosta