Last night Lauren and I were lucky enough to attend Virsky, a production from the National Dance Company of Ukraine. It was a fantastic, awe-inspiring performance that we both loved! The dancers were incredible; performing feats barely believable. The costumes were intricate and beautiful. And while I’m no dancer, the choreography seemed magical. If you have the chance to see this performance you won’t be disappointed.
Since the photographer in me never really turns off I couldn’t help but draw a few comparisons between dance and photography. Here are a few but I’m sure you’ll think of more.
1. It’s all about the details.
Dancers don’t just dance with their feet, they dance with their whole body. They appear constantly aware of the position of every muscle, joint, and limb. It’s beautiful to watch!
That kind of attention to detail and awareness is exactly what every photographer should aspire to with respect to the components of your images. Light, subject, background, foreground, expression, and timing are a few details that you must always trying to be aware of. As you progress, you learn of more details to pay attention to. It’s a never-ending journey.
Besides shooting, being aware of the details is also so important with respect to the business aspect of photography. Marketing, branding, client experience, and so on.
If you want to up your game, look at one small detail of your work or business, and figure out how to make it better. Then move on to the next detail. And then the next one. After that, go to the next detail. Do you see where I’m going here? ;)
2. It’s a performance.
I’ll mention again that I’m no dancer. Despite not being a dancer and not having seen much Ukrainian dance before, I was still greatly impressed by their performance.
They could have been half as good as they were and I would likely still have been impressed with them. The reason is their understanding of performance.
They aren’t just up there doing fancy spins, and jumping really high. They’re engaging their audience, sharing a story, and communicating passion!
This is so important in photography. Your clients will talk about the experience that you provide, not just the images. In a shoot you must always be engaging your clients, drawing out their personalities, telling jokes, and making them feel as comfortable as possible.
In our own shoots I’m quite often the butt end of Lauren’s jokes, but I don’t mind. It’s all part of the performance for the clients.
Start thinking of your time shooting as a performance, and what you can do to improve it for your clients.
3. It’s about passion.
This should be number one but I didn’t want to lead with the obvious.
It’s simple. The dancers who communicated the most passion were the most enjoyable to watch, even if they weren’t necessarily the most technically skilled.
It’s exciting when you can see the love that someone is putting into something. This is true of dance, photography, art, science, and life.
If you’re passionate about your photography (which I’m rather sure you are) make sure to let that show.
4. It’s about practice.
I was absolutely blown away by the unbelievable feats the dancers were able to perform (consistently and beautifully, no less).
You could see one movement and know they had done that movement thousands and thousands of times.
Perfect practice makes perfect.
The next thing I noticed was that often dances were long and complex and I constantly found myself wondering how they could possibly remember all the movements and not make any mistakes. The key again was practice.
I’m sure they didn’t learn the whole dance all at once. The dance was likely split up into logical segments to learn and practice.
The same is true of photography. You can’t learn everything all at once. You need to break things up and practice them individually before putting everything together.
Don’t be discouraged if you still have a long way to go with photography. We all do. Just keep working on one thing at a time, and you will get there. Promise.
This being an unusually long post for me I’m going to leave you with a YouTube clip of Mikhail Baryshnikov. He’s an incredible performer, who brings so much passion and artistry to his performances. It won’t be hard to spot the above points in the clip below.
Apologies for the quality of the clip, it’s still my favorite one of him! The performance is actually a clip from a movie, thus the random crying woman.
Hope you’re inspired!