This is the first post in my new photography blog, as my web host Zenfolio has just today released this feature. So this is really a test post to see what this thing looks like. It's catching me at a good time, because this weekend is gearing up to be a very busy one.
Yesterday, I had a great time doing headshots of young actors at St. John's Episcopal School, as they near crunch time in the production of this year's Middle School Play, "Beauty and the Beast". Although our daughter graduated from St. John's three years ago, I continue to photograph the school's production each year because I respect and enjoy the company of the director and inspirational leader of the troupe, Lori Speciale, as well as the cast, and all of the administrators and volunteers who make this production a success. We start the photographic effort with headshots, which are used to promote the production, and are included in the Playbill (if we have the resources to produce it). As the schedule moves more deeply into rehearsals, I'll shoot a few, to try to capture the cast and crew as they progress from "Where am I supposed to be now?" to "We can actually do this!" I then shoot as many performances as I can, from different angles, to create a seamless record of the experience. The culmination of this effort is a hardcover book. I'm just now reviewing, selecting, and editing the headshots; I'll post a sample with some details on the approach when they're ready to go.
Another labor of love is coming up this weekend, as the Pacific Ballet Conservatory and Pacific Theatre Ballet are staging the annual production of "Soloiste". This is a series of solo variations by the Conservatory's more advanced students, and is a wonderful opportunity to photograph these dancers doing what they love. The venue is the Laguna Hills Community Center's multipurpose room. You might think that a multipurpose room in a community center would not be a good location for photographing ballet, let alone performing it, but you'd be wrong. The stage lighting can be very good, and exposures under ambient conditions are solid. I've gotten some amazing photographs from this room, and this year promises to provide opportunities for more.
Here's a sample from a previous production of "Soloiste", one of my favorite ballet images. This is Megan Van Horn during a piece from "Swan Lake" in 2010. During the conversion process to black and white, I dropped out much of the background, leaving only a hint of the path leading away from her, to focus more on the play of light on her hands. I've photographed Megan a number of times, and each time she amazes me more and more. She's currently in New York, studying and performing with Gelsey Kirkland.
I've photographed "Soloiste" here, as well as several performances of "The Nutcracker Suite", and brought back some terrific images. There was this one little episode last year that kinda makes sense in the context of a community center's multipurpose room. I arrived at the center to photograph a Nutcracker rehearsal, only to find that the large, divisible room had in fact been divided into two sections: one part including the stage for the ballet rehearsal, and the other part for a private party. Well, the party turned out to be a quinceanera, and Tchaikovsky had to compete with live music from a bunch of energetic mariachis. I'm not sure that the director and dancers saw the humor in this, but I sure did. After all, the traditional "Nutcracker Suite" does feature Chinese, Spanish, Russian, and Arabian dancers....
That's it for now.