Dane Shitagi Captures the Astonishing Beauty of Ballet

“I like to think that we’re turning the world into our stage,” the photographer ​​Dane Shitagi tells me. For over more than two decades, he’s collaborated with well over a hundred professional ballerinas, setting up in breathtaking locations across the globe. “I’m looking at it almost as if the dancers are dancing within their own imaginations,” he says. “We’re all explorers, and we’re all products of our environments. There’s something spiritual about discovering our world in this way.” 

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How To: An Introduction to Street Style Dance Photography

Dance photography is absolutely gorgeous; how do you get into it?

It’s quite easy for many photographers to scroll their Instagram feed and double tap any dance photography they see. The reason why is because it’s all pretty magical. Like everyone in the photography community says and does though, everyone wants to do it. But how? To figure this out, we talked to photographer Kien Quan and Omar Robles–arguably two of the bigger dance photographers on Instagram. In two separate interviews, we took a look at their work and asked for digestible quotes to help out other photographers.

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Charlie Naebeck’s Energetic “Kinetic” Project Takes Dance Photography to New Heights

All images by Charlie Naebeck. Used with permission.

After more than a year of shooting, scouting for collaborators, editing photos, and putting everything together, Charlie Naebeck is finally set to release a book to culminate his Kinetic project. This series, which is an exploration of the energy of dance, is his own take on photographing the graceful movements of this art form through long exposures and multiple exposures. Early into the project last year, we’ve given a preview of his experimental and non-conventional approach to photographing the dancers he collaborated with. Now, he’s gearing up for a worldwide launch of his Kinetic book and an accompanying music album on October 20th.

To catch up with him and learn more about his project, we recently had a chat with Charlie, who shared in great detail the processes, motivations, and ideas behind Kinetic, as well as some information about his upcoming international launch.

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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.

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Luc Kordas Captures The Emotion And Soul Of Dancers

All images by Luc Kordas. Used with permission. 

“The world of dance and theater is dark and full of mysteries and I am diving into it,” says Luc Kordas about his most recent project. It is no easy task to photograph dancers and capture their energy, movements, and souls. Luc, whom we have featured previously here, has delivered an updated, on-going, powerful series of black and white dance images titled “Nocturnes”.

Luc Kordas is inspired by the photo book “Islands of Silence” by Donata Wender showcasing black and white images of ballet dancers. In his own personal photography project shooting the dancers, Luc emphasizes the intimate moments when dancers are one on one with themselves and their art. This often happens not necessarily on stage, but more often at backstage. He also pays attention to visually pleasing details such as ballet shoes, fragments of garments, focused or seemingly lost gazes, and fleeting gestures that represent pure visual poetry.

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Check Out Photographer Sasha Onyshchenko’s Breathtaking “Dancers” Series

All images by Sasha Onyshchenko. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Montreal based photographer, Sasha Onyshchenko, has recently completed a beautiful 10-image series featuring dancers. Mixing strobe and natural light, Onyshchenko captures his subjects in striking poses along a rocky coastline. The juxtaposition of the hard, jagged rocks and nimble, graceful dancers creates a series showcasing form, contrast, and color that is both eye-catching and thought-provoking.

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Theik Smith: Dancer Portraits in Black and White (NSFW)

All images by Theik Smith. Used with permission.

“My lighting style is borne from a mish-mash of influences; movies, comic books, fashion – oh, goodness, I love, love, LOVE Horst P. Horst and Richard Avedon!” says photographer Theik Smith. Theik is based in Brooklyn and is a fight coordinator, writer and photographer. His work is quite interesting with its specific use of lights, darks, and some forms of contrast more or less. It’s almost as if he spotlights certain areas of his photos, reaches out to you, and beckons you to look in a specific spot.

That’s exactly what many artists do–except that Theik finds a way to also create interesting shapes and use figures in visually striking ways.

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Collaborating with Dancers in the Studio as a Photographer

All images by Deborah Ory and Ken Browar. Used with permission. Lead image: Tiler Peck, Principal, New York City Ballet

Photographers Deborah Ory and Ken Browar are a husband and wife duo. Their subjects: dancers. Based here in NYC, Deborah and Ken has been shooting for the past few years from companies including American Ballet Theatre, Martha Graham Dance Company, Alvin Ailey, New York City Ballet and others. Later this year, a book of theirs called “The Art of Movement” will be published for all to call their own personal coffee table book.

But what’s most interesting about these two is how they work with dancers, their insistence on working in the studio, their use of colors, and how they go about creating the images that they do. And according to Deborah “We collaborate closely with the dancer, but also direct the shoot.”

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Bailarina y Urbe: Finding Beauty Through Contrast


All images by Saskia Font. Used with permission.

“I have this project called Bailarina y Urbe, which tries to mix the beauty and sensitivity of dance and the roughness and coldness of the city jungle.” is how photographer Saskia Font explains a bit about her work in an email to the Phoblographer. “I also try to look for emblematic spots in the city in Barcelona, because you can find beautiful architecture here.”

Saskia comes from a family of artists; and started shooting photos early on in life. It was only in her 20s that she started to take the art form more seriously.

Part of the influence behind Bailarina y Urbe is because her grandparents were dancers; and so she’s always been attracted to ballet. On top of that, she studied it in her younger years. Then, the project started in 2010, and she’s collaborated with several ballerinas who have become her muse in her project.


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Eli Akerstein: Beauty in Dance Photography


Meg Anderson

All images by Eli Akerstein. Used with permission.

“I am a dance photographer out of Boulder Colorado shooting both professional groups as well as young dancers.” is how Eli Akerstein describes himself in his email to the Phoblographer. “I have been photographing dance for more than 10 years.”

Eli, like many other dance photographers, is focused on creating and capturing beautiful scenes that do the performer justice. He understands that work like this isn’t just capturing an artist, it’s a collaboration on creating your own unique vision on pixels.



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Better Than a Leap of Faith: Lois Greenfield Shares Her Tips for Capturing Dancers in Flight

 Daniel Ezralow and Ashley Roland

Daniel Ezralow and Ashley Roland

Recognizing the challenges of dance photography is something American photographer Lois Greenfield appreciates perhaps more than anyone. For 40 years, has been known for her signature gravity-defying images of dancers in flight. One of the biggest challenges is to capture the ‘perfect’ moment. From her years of experience, Greenfield shares with you 3 tips to help you develop your own decisive moment in dance photography. She also holds 2 day dance photography workshops in her NYC based studio, the next one being March 19&20, 2016. Click here for more details!

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Night Paper: Matt Hill’s Black and White Portraits (NSFW)


All images by Matt Hill. Used with permission.

Photographer Matt Hill has been shooting for many years, and amongst many of the people closely involved to the marketing involved in the photo industry, they know him as a legend. While he’s a top notch marketer and one of the heads of the Night Photography Workshops in National Parks, he’s also an artist. For years he’s had a love of night photography. Art and photography was instilled in him from a young age.

For many involved in the Burlesque community, they’ll know that he is the mastermind behind the Night Paper project. For Matt, the idea was an amalgamation of various ideas from his past and his love of night photography. But on a more personal note, it was his way of coping with a rough divorce.

Matt talked to the site about how he combined his love of night photography with his love of cut paper.

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Nathan Blaney (NSFW)





What makes black and white photography so important to you?

My brain just simply works in black and white. I can see an image waiting to happen and its always stronger in black and white. Color is rarely important to what’s happening in my personal work. For commercial clients, yes, I can work with color but it never feels as satisfying or rich. I’ve got some regular clients now who have come around to allowing me to shoot an assignment in black and white if I feel it produces stronger images… and they’re always happy. …

What inspires you to create photographs?

I have always been a visual artist, but not always a photographer. It took me quite some time to realize that one of the things I enjoyed about making art was the immediacy of certain mediums. Watercolor, acrylic, ink, etc dried rapidly and I could work in on top of what I already laid down. Photography was even more immediate – print your image and you see the results in seconds. Digital photography has made things even more instant. It all allows a quick creative response to the subject. I’ve found that my drive to create photos comes from an interest in capturing moments or ideas, some fleeting and some carefully crafted – but there’s an artistic challenge  in both that I really enjoy.…

Why is black and white photography so important to our future in the art world?

While black and white is the historical basis of all photography and is important to explore for that reason alone, it is also a way of seeing and thinking.  Its easy to fall back on color in an image – it can be an easy crutch. Black and white images force an attention to technical elements that color sometimes lets slide. I see it as roughly equivalent to why we spend so much time drawing with charcoal in art school – yes its an easy to manipulate medium, but more importantly it demands your attention depicting an image in monochrome. Not an easy feat in many cases.


Omar Robles: Photographing Dancers in the Streets of NYC


All images by Omar Robles. Used with permission.

If you’re not already following photographer Omar Robles on Instagram, then you’ll want to boot up your phone and do so now. Originally from Puerto Rico, he is a dance and documentary photographer.

In 2007, he started working as a professional photographer for Metro San Juan Magazine in Puerto Rico. Then he moved to Chicago in 2010 where he worked as a photojournalist for the Chicago Tribune’s Spanish publication Hoy. In 2013, he relocated to NYC where he started working on a dance series under the hashtag #OZR_Dance. It’s earned him the recognition of Instagram’s Blog, Huffington Post and Mashable among others.

Omar’s Instagram feed is filled with images that he shoots where he and dancers take to the streets of NYC and create visually stunning scenes.

And believe it or not, he started being completely afraid of taking portraits.

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Lois Greenfield’s Mesmerizing Photos of Dancers

©2014 Lois Greenfield

Paul Zivkovich

All images by Lois Greenfield. Used with permission.

Photographer Lois Greenfield has been photographing and collaborating with dancers for many years. And as a culmination of her body of work, she’s releasing a new book this November called Moving Still. The Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography (FEP) is organizing a traveling exhibition of the images in the book.

Years ago, she got out of photojournalism  after becoming captivated with the creation process involving photographing dancers. It started out with a concern that she didn’t want to photograph someone else’s art, and so her and the dancers would work on interesting movements in a studio back in the 1980’s. Back then, she wouldn’t see the images until they were developed.

What’s even cooler and more incredible about the work that Lois does is that her images are never digitally manipulated. Many of these images can be seen in major magazines, as well as exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. Lois has created imagery for brand names such as Sony, Rolex, Hanes, Orangina, AT&T, Seagram’s, Pepsi and Disney.

She has had solo exhibitions at the International Center of Photography, New York; Erarta Contemporary Art Museum in St Petersburg, Russia; the San Diego Museum of Photographic Art; the Southeast Museum of Photography, Florida; and the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, among others.

Based in New York, Greenfield gives workshops and lectures widely about her work, and is currently an Artist in Residence at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 2015, she received the Dance in Focus award, presented by the Dance Films Association and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in honor of her groundbreaking contributions to dance photography.

Her next dance photography workshop will be held the weekend of November 7th and 8th in her studio in NYC; and we got the chance to talk to Lois about her photography, why she describes photo sessions as “blind dates” and her background.

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Shooting Dancers and Colored Smoke Bombs Under NYC

Smoked 5

All images by Kien Quan. Used with permission.

Kien Quan is a NYC-based action photographer who specializes in capturing urban street dancers.  In fact, dance is the way that he got into photography. He used to be a competitive break dancer and this resulted in him travelling a lot. Because of that, be bought a camera and eventually learned how to use it.

“Originally, I documented dance events and shot my friends for fun. Most of the time I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.” Kien tells us. “Because I was naturally curious, I read online tutorials and created my own ‘homework’ to figure out how to use a camera.”

Kien found that creating and directing a shoot such as portraiture gave him the freedom to create something from start to finish. “There’s something satisfying about choosing your background, picking the lighting, and directing the talent in comparison to showing up somewhere and just clicking the button at the right time.”

One day though, Kien was inspired by a video on the Anarchist Cookbook. “I made smoke bombs during my childhood so I wanted to revisit my inner pyromaniac tendencies.” says Kien. At the same time he started to gain interest in Urban Exploration. When he put the ideas together, it was just a matter of convincing dancers to follow him down there.

“Dancers are naturally curious so it wasn’t very difficult to convince them to come explore.”

When shooting the series, Kien tells us that his biggest concern was one of the talent doing a flip and twisting his ankles due to uneven gravel. In fact, they wanted to keep shooting but figured that with smoke bombs creating smoke that came out of the sewer grates that someone would get a bit too curious.

This isn’t the end of the series, as Kien says that there is more to come. Images from the series are after the jump.

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Snap Pilots’ Enthralling Images of Dancers

Binly_SnapPilots_Phoblographer (5)

All images by the Snap Pilots. Used with permission.

The Snap Pilots are a based out of San Diego, California representing the photography & cinematography based group. Binly, whose stage name is “Lancer” is a photographer and dancer who founded the project with his teammate Jacob with the purpose of exhibiting their vision as dancers and artist to the world. His main work in photography lies in portraits, ranging from dance photography to family portrait sessions. While traveling to compete in dance tournaments, he travels within the city to explore the realms of street photography.

Binly is the quintessential photographer that above all else, puts his creative vision and the subject first despite owning quite a bit of pricey gear.

It’s well worth it for you to check him out on InstagramTwitterGoogle+, and Flickr.

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Photographing Dancers with Long Exposures and Second Curtain Flash

Dancer with second curtain flash

Dramatizing movement is one of the coolest things that you can do in a photograph that otherwise captures it all in a single frame. While many photographers love to do this with long exposures, adding a strobe element via second curtain flash can create even more drama. When you add second curtain flash, what the camera does is freeze a specific moment in the image while dramatizing the movement of the rest of it. It’s a lot of fun–and we do it occasionally in our reviews.

Photographer Phillip McCordall created a tutorial video last month showing us a very proper and fairly old school way ot creating a photo like this in a studio setting with a dancer. He combined second curtain flash usage with a slower shutter speed and just the right aperture and ISO mixture to create the images that you’ll see in the video below.

Want to try this for yourself? We recommend grabbing a dancer or a ballerina. But this can be done with a lot more than just them. I’ve done this with fire dancers and athletes before. You’ll just need to think in terms of a long exposure for the most part.

Mr. McCordall’s video on photographing dancers with long exposures and second curtain flash is after the jump.

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