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Who are your favorite photographers of dance?

107 posts in this topic

---I think the name that Perky was looking for might be George Platt Lyons, but not sure.

That's the one. Thanks!! :blink:

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Anne Barzel once told me, though, that they were actually two brothers, Maurice and Seymour.

Really?!? I had no idea -- how fascinating!

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Perky, couldnt it have been Walter E. Owen? At least I have a book with some absolutely wonderful photos by him.

And why has nobody mentioned Houston Rogers in England?

Serge Lido in France?

And then we had quite a marvellous photographer in Denmark, Mydtskov.

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Ms. Mydtskov is (was?) the mother of former NYCB dancer, Jeppe Mydtskov. I THINK she was the official photograher for the Royal Danish Ballet.

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I have been most interested to read posters choice as many distinguished photographers have been included, but also some who I think are pretty awful photographers from a technical point of view and who also, publish unflattering photographs of dancer eg a moment when the foot appears unstretched when landing or a moment when one corps de ballet member is out of line. Ballet photography should also be an art not mere reportage or photo-verite. Best moments should be published after all photographers have the luxury of choosing one photograph out of what might be 10, 20, or even 30 or more shots. How could Anthony Crickmay and Zoe Dominic be missed out as important photographers? And of todays photographers what of the 'art work' of Petra Bober? Personally I have always thought of Jennie Walton's contribution as significant as does another poster.

Edited by leonid

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And why has nobody mentioned Serge Lido in France?

Yes, yes.. how could I forget him---I once had two of his books. I loved his photos of French dancers in the 40's. Some very striking ones of Jeanmaire. His books introduced me to Petit, Babilee and Paris Opera dancers before they hit my shores.

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And why has nobody mentioned Serge Lido in France?

Yes, yes.. how could I forget him---I once had two of his books. I loved his photos of French dancers in the 40's. Some very striking ones of Jeanmaire. His books introduced me to Petit, Babilee and Paris Opera dancers before they hit my shores.

Apologies but earlier posting did not register. Every so often I look at my collection of Serge Lido books and am literally entranced at the way he captures the physical and personal attributes of dancers. I have his books from the 50's

and they are full of glamour and chic which is to me typical of his style and render his subjects as slaves to his preferred image whilst preserving their own particular qualities. They are in many cases also great photographs.

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And me too, Herb Migdoll.

I don't know why you think this dates you, Mel. Migdoll is still the official photographer for the Joffrey, and he does lovely work.

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Names you might not know:

Elizabeth Gorelik is extraordinary at photographing the out-there post-modern dancers aaround the bay Area. Google her; she's fantastic.

I agree that Marty Sohl can catch some of the most interesting transitions, especially good at hyperballet.

King, who's a BA poster, has some remarkably beautiful images; he sees things I've seen in dancers but rarely seen in photographs.

And yes of course, Swope, and Costas.

And the immortals, Barbara Morgan, George Platt Lynes, Maurice Seymour, and Baron.

.........

I didn't mentin Marc Haegeman before, but agree wih many posters -- he sees line, and the archetype in the moment, which are probably the two most important attributes a dance photographer needs (aside from catching the feel of a movement, but only a very few can do that and do the other two; Morgan could do all three, but she had Graham's costumes toi help her, since htey often revealed the wake of the impulse).

Others may catch fascinatng accidents, but Marc sees the canonic moments.

Edited by Paul Parish

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I've always liked Paul Good's work. I know he does all of the shots for Discount Dance Supply and the few times I've met him he's really nice and very professional. I was just on his website and his work is amazing!! He's in the New York area and I'm back in CA now. :-(

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As a "sometimes" ballet photographer from a few years ago, this thread has been very interesting for me, providing a lot of information on some new people that I should look up for their photographs.

Just based on the photographs I have seen in the past, it is amazing to me of the variety of images on ballet that have been taken. For example, I just looked at some wounderful interpretive ballet images on this forum (under the "Aesthetics" thread) by Marc Haegeman.

Most of my ballet photography in the past has been in B&W, since somehow that medium seemed to provide the artistic feeling that I was feeling. I did take some color, but it did not seem to work as well. What do you think, do you like B&W ballet photos better than color?

In addition, in the past sometimes only B&W film was fast enough to capture/stop the movement of dance. Of course, now digital imagery has changed that. Marc's photos mentioned above are both in color, and often use controlled blur to artistically communicate the feeling of movement and action.

Thanks to all of you for your suggstions and contributions to the list of "best" ballet photographers!

donb

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I also have a strong preference for black and white when it comes to Ballet photography. I began taking ballet pictures about 15 years ago and started off in black and white but was pretty much forced to switch to colour as I don't have space at home for a darkroom and doing my own developing became time consuming. Sending my film to a studio was expensive and the results were often poor. I use colour reluctantly but some results have been good.

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I like color if it's used well, but it seems to me that it's a dicier business than black-and-white. I loved many of the color photographs in the recent Costas collection, but was disturbed by the garish tint of many of them -- very distracting and unattractive.

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I like color if it's used well, but it seems to me that it's a dicier business than black-and-white. I loved many of the color photographs in the recent Costas collection, but was disturbed by the garish tint of many of them -- very distracting and unattractive.

Color is tricky especially on stage, but it's safe to say that the introduction of digital photography made it a lot easier in this respect - easier in the sense that one has a much better control over it than in analogue.

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I can't confess to know many dance photographers but one that I admire a great deal is Johan Persson. He retired as Royal Ballet principal a few years back with a knee injury and turned to photography instead. His photographs make me feel like I'm right on stage with the dancers. And he does beautifully intimate black and white ones of dancers in rehearsal - I've heard his camera clicking from the wings during an insight day or masterclass. :)

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And then there's this one: ...........

Is there possibly a worse angle for shooting an arabesque?

It could be worse. Imagine putting the arabesque into attitude (adding to the angles). Then dressing the ballerina in a tutu and turning her head over her left shoulder so she's smiling directly at the camera. Voila! You have Miami City Ballet's advertisisng image for their 4th program this season.

This awkward, static shot was meant to illustrate the theme title for the program: "Poetry in Motion." :)

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Here is one you probably have not heard much of- Bob Mooney. He lives in Naples, Florida, and mostly photographs Miami City Ballet. His website http://home.earthlink.net/~bobmooney/wings.html has a few photos- all black and whites, some with a sepia tone- and these are actually not very recent. However, his work just continues to improve- his sense of timing and composition is priceless. He shoots most performances and some rehersals-so no posed shots-and probably has photos dating back many years. He has a way of capturing the essence of the dancer AND the dance that I have rarely seen.

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thanks, liebling. I loved the sepia shots in this portfoliio especially, and the sense of dancers in repose mostly, waiting to go on. This is not your usual portfolio, and more striking because of that.

Was that Edward Villella seen from the back on the last shot?

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Yes- I think so. I wish that the photographer would add some of his more recent work- he also has color shots, including very stunning performance shots of Stravinsky Violin Conserto.

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I don't like dance photography much, because for me the through-line is very important in dance, and still photography eliminates this entirely when it shows us a bit of the world as though frozen in a lightning-flash, as it usually does; in other words it uses dance as material for something else, some striking images. Sometimes I find these are more or less rewarding in themselves, but they're not pictures of dance anymore, not for me.

For example, there are a lot of very handsome images on Marc Haegeman's generous website, but I don't see much dance in many of them (sure, maybe it's me), even in some of the ones in the "Color and Motion" gallery there, where it looks like he's made some longer exposures, so that the dancers' images are blurry because they were moving. This can also be another kind of strangely striking and beautiful image, but dance doesn't look like that to me either.

There was a time though when I saw photographs by Paul Kolnik which did show dancing to me: They were performance photographs, not posed, and they looked, superficially, like his timing was just a little "off," like he had made the exposure when a dancer was just coming into or just going out of a pose, and sometimes there was just the slightest blur due to motion, and I felt I was seeing dancing when I was looking at a still image! When I met him, I blurted out what I thought of his miraculous pictures, including my description of their looking like his timing was a tiny bit "off," and I don't think I ever saw any more like that. (There aren't any up on his website, either.) I've thought ever since that he took my remarks the wrong way and got real careful about his timing! *! *! *! *! (That's the sound of me banging my head against the wall.)

But of course there are moments when dancers are motionless in the same characteristic ways they move. I didn't post in the discussion of the recent Costas book, mainly because of my aversion to this subject (but also because of the frequently garish colors and somewhat repetitious poses remarked on there by some others), but I do remember from perusing a library copy of the book a small photo Costas had taken of Patricia McBride, in Who Cares?. She's standing on one point, with one arm straight up and her index finger pointing forward, and her eyebrows are raised. Having seen (and loved to have seen) her dancing, this still image evoked for me the sparkling quality her dancing often had in a way no one else's had. Sometimes you see miracles, not just on stage, but even on paper.

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Our fellow member, amitava, is an exceptional dance photographer. On another thread today, he commented on the kind of skill needed to do this work.

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Who are the dance photographer's you most admire? And what makes them special?

I can't believe no-one has mentioned Christopher Jean-Richard, he shoots for Tulsa Ballet and has some of the best performance shots I've ever seen. Google tells me he probably was a dancer himself, and it really shows.

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If these are Jean Richard's photo's on the Tulsa Ballet website, I'm having a hard time finding an attribution (although the design company is.)

Thank you for the heads up, mississippiqueen. We don't have many posters who tell us about Tulsa Ballet.

Please feel free to introduce yourself on our Welcome Forum by clicking the "New Topic" button in the upper right corner of the forum.

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