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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