The Urban Movement: Keith Reid’s Wonderful Photos of Dancers in the Streets

All images and text by Keith Reid. Used with permission.

I have always been fascinated by photography and how it connects people with moments in time. I don’t just see a photograph, I see an emotion or an idea that compels the viewer to truly feel connected with the subject by telling a story. My photography has served many purposes for me: it has saved me from my own darkness; forced my hand at a confidence I didn’t know I had; connected me with amazing people I would have never met otherwise. Now I want to use photography as a platform to showcase the sacrifice, skill, dedication, and inspirational talent I get to see in my subjects every day. I shoot primarily in Micro Four Thirds with the Panasonic G85 and use 12-60mm f3.5-5.6 OIS, 25mm f1.7 G ASPH, and a 14mm f2.5 G.

As the father of a three year old, my life is a whirlwind of gymnastics classes, art projects, and temper tantrums peppered with some really amazing moments. My project, The Urban Movement, feels like another child to me. I want see it do well and reach and inspire people. These are photographs that are inspired by the emotions and state of mind of not only the artist, but also me. If you’re looking to see extraordinary moments that will inspire you to reach for your dreams in life this is the project you want to see.

Tell us about how you got into photography.

My mom bought me my first film camera when I was eight years old so we could take photos together on family trips. I had always been interested in photography, but it never really stuck until I bought my first SLR – a Canon 1100D. I never went to school for photography, so I taught myself technique and composure through lots of natural curiosity and watching YouTube tutorials and reading articles.

What made you want to get into your genre?

There are many genres of photography that I enjoy, and although I don’t like to limit myself to one style I find myself fascinated by lifestyle photography. I’m a natural introvert and tend to have a hard time reaching out and speaking to people, but it’s almost addicting the way this genre enables me to consistently step outside of that comfort zone. I enjoy that there is always an element of unexpected storytelling in each unique photo.

Tell us a bit about the gear that you use and how you feel it helps you achieve your creative vision?

I started using SLRs but carrying the heavy camera bodies and glass became difficult and frustrating to pack. After lots of research, I decided try my hand at Micro Four Thirds and I’ve been very happy with it. The light-weight convince of this style has been very important to me while still giving me the quality of shots that I need. I can pack more lenses if I needed and it is less strenuous on my back since I do a lot of walking during shoots.

What motivates you to shoot?

I love to see the emotional reactions of people when they look at my work. I’ve seen the wow, laughter, and tears and it compels me to make more, to know that I can create something that connects with someone on that level is incredibly empowering.

What photographers influence you?

There are so many. I would have to say Annie Leibovitz because she has shot so many iconic portraits and Omar Robles’ and Vadim Stein’s works both have encouraged me to start the series I’m working on now. Andrew Keams has inspired me in regards to how he has his subject interact with their environment – It’s stunning.

Tell us about the project that you’re pitching, or your portfolio.

The Urban Movement is a series that showcases the talents of various performing artists in an urban environment. I liken it to putting beauty in the belly of the beast. Focusing on their talents and the connection they have to the city they live in. My subjects appear to be ordinary people, but they have beautiful gifts that separate them from everyone else. They are the black sheep we come to admire, respect, and inspire us. Their talents range from acro-yoga to ballet, yoga, contemporary, hip hop, and etc.

How long have you been shooting?

I’ve been shooting for over 6 years, but began taking it very seriously 2 years ago with my 365 project.

Why is photography and shooting so important to you?

The importance of photography to me is it’s therapeutic effect. About three years ago I began to come to terms with the fact that I suffer from depression. I used photography to express what I was feeling because it was hard for me to explain what I was going through. The more I shoot the better I felt. There are days I still struggle, but photography has helped me cope with it. Also, photography helps me stay communicative with new people especially when it’s the hardest.

Do you feel that you’re more of a creator or a documenter? Why?

I feel that I’m both. When I look at it I’m documenting people lives for that day but I’m putting a creative element towards it. I’m taking certain parts of their days that would be ordinary but arranging it in way that looks unique. For example I might have a ballet dancer that I’m traveling with and have her do a arabesque in the middle of the train station. Documenting a event that would be ordinary but I’m making it special.

What’s typically going through your mind when you create images? Tell us about your processes both mentally and mechanically?

When meeting with clients in the past, I would scout out locations the day before to prepare and then realized we weren’t going to half those locations because we would find something better on the way. Now I just meet up with clients and we search for locations in the moment to tell the story we’re looking to capture. My thoughts when shooting are specific to how I can use the location and the natural lighting in a way that balances one another. From that point on the model and I discuss what would work best in the frame such as movements, poses, environment, etc. A lot times when I’m working with dancers I’m using fast shutter speeds to capture their movements. I like to slightly over-expose using prime lenses for sharper results and better depth of field. I also like using back button focus on my camera to make it easier to switch from continuous focus to single point.

Want to walk us through your processing techniques?

My processing technique various on what I’m feeling from the image. Sometimes I like my pictures to have a gritty film look to them and other time I like them clean cut and smooth. Most of my editing takes place either in Lightroom or Photoshop. My editing consists of making the light and shadows look more dramatic, adjusting colors, and then fine tuning the small details.

Be sure to also check out Keith on Instagram and Facebook.