The city of Newcastle in the North East of England is known for its iconic bridges, architecture as well as it’s countryside and beaches, but according to photographer, Chris Rennison-Rae, beautiful architecture and landscapes are only part of Newcastle’s photogenic appeal. We had a chance to chat with Chris about his lately project that mixes some of Newcastle’s urban and country-side icons with the athletic gracefulness of dancers.
“The Dance project for me, represents not only the dancers, but how they fit in an out of context environment. How, they don’t have to be confined to a stage or screen. I see hundreds of landscapes photos of my home city, everything just seems the same, so mixing it up, creating something unique to this city is what drives me.” – Chris Rennison-Rae
Phoblographer: Tell us about how you got into photography.
Chris Rennison-Rae: My Photography story started with my travels around the globe in a previous job as an auditor for a global company. From there it progressed into doing my local American football, which is where at the local camera shop, advised me if I was shoot sport I should start with a Sony. So in 2012 I purchased my first entry level DSLR. There also happened to be two other reasons for the camera; the imminent arrival of my son and the 2012 Olympics. However, it wasn’t until about 2 years later that I was actually started to take my photography seriously when a friend approached me and told me they would pay me for shooting their family portraits. I thought, Really? Maybe I should stop sitting on the fence and just go do it. After all I did have it on my bucket list to sell one photo.
Phoblographer: What made you want to get into your particular genre?
Chris: I would say I’m not completely settled on a definitive genre as yet. It is a long road of discovery for me. I’m still not tying myself to one genre, apart from saying it’s got to have people, be it portraits, weddings, a touch of fashion or in this case, understanding the movement of the dancers to create something truly beautiful. After selling one photo (or in that case more than one photo), I’d added photograph a ballerina to the bucket list. It was a cool shoot, I was testing out my first purchase of some cheap studio lights too, so for me an experiment and bucket list all in one go. That moved from that first shoot and progressed into a dance project and around the iconic streets of my home town of Newcastle and down on to the beaches of Northumberland.
I wanted to show off the sites of my city; to showcase the best we have to offer while combining them with the amazing talents of a number of dancers. Why dancers? I believe they are underrated athletes that deserve more limelight (I can’t dance for toffee and have been a basketballer for many years). I love the poise the strength the gracefulness of it. The jumps, the poses.
Phoblographer: Tell us a bit about the gear that you use and how do you feel it helps you achieve your creative vision?
Chris: After moving off a bridge camera, I moved into a Sony a57 with a stock lens for a good 2 years. Then I bought by first 50mm 1.8, that changed things up so much. It’s progressed to a dual camera set up now of a Sony a77 and a A99. I team with a Sigma 24-70 2.8 on the a99 and a 70-200 2.8 on the a77. For my dance project I exclusively used the a99, as the depth of color is better I find and its better in the lower light.
Phoblographer: What motivates you to shoot?
Chris: Capturing moments, from a look of a groom to a bride, a squeeze of a hand, a dancer jumping in the air, a ballerina on point, a child’s hand fitting into a parents. The look of a model right into the camera and that split second between a good photo and a great photo that you envisaged before you clicked the shutter. Those are the moment that you live to capture. For this project specifically its around the split second movement, none of this was shot on a burst, its all single shot, and getting that moment normally on the second or third attempt is where a lot of satisfaction lies.
Phoblographer: Which photographers have influenced you?
I’m a big fan of Instagram (yes I post most days of the time). My favorite photographers and ones that influence me at the moment are Peter Coulson, Dani Diamond, Jordan Matter, and Phillipe Sibomana. Peter Coulson, I love the way he captures the light from a single studio light. Dani Diamond, his editing is unreal, Jordan Matter for his dance photography, and actually a personal friend of mine Phillipe Sibomana, a street photographer, he just manages to capture something amazing in his photography.