Saturday, October 31, 2009

Costume Issues

The Old Town photo shoot was interesting in that we found a lot of locations that didn't look like "typical" Old Town. Here is a set of pics in a "western" setting of Danika that show some of the unexpected "perils" of costuming.

Danika is wearing Titania's costume from our production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I thought the vibrant color would make a nice contrast to the whites and browns of Old Town. I also thought that the costume matched Danika's temperament as a dancer. But as you can see in the next photo...
The empire line and open construction of the bodice made any kind of arching in the upper body a bit of a problem. The dancers body gets lost in a mass of fabric and she looks as if she is a bit wider than she actually is. In motion this is not a problem, as the costume just flattens back out, but in a picture I want to SEE the dancers body.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

7th Inning Stretch

A few unused pics from the Petco shoot with Bernadette.
The first was unusable because we can't see the tips of Bernadette's pointe shoes.

The second is nice enough but a little soft. It is a little reminiscent of the image that we did use of Bernadette in the split.
There were also a series of shots that were taken with baseball props, but they were never meant to be used in the campaign as they are too specific.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

And They Are Off...

Now here is an example of a pic being a bit too specific.
The idea for the campaign was always that we put ballet dancers in iconic San Diego locations, not that we costume them as characters from those locations. So in this image, Arielle is just a bit too much of a jockey for our purposes. Thats why we went with something more like this.
Not that the Del Mar Racetrack couldn't use the previous picture (which is quite nice) for their own publicity, should they choose to.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Boy and his... Whale.

Some shoots are just fun... period. And some shoots are beyond awesome. We always knew that we needed a Sea World shot. When we got in contact with them, they graciously allowed us to shoot our dancer with Shamu. Since we were going to be near the water (and the nefarious Splash Zone), I decided that it would be best to take a male dancer, rather than a ballerina in a tutu.
The images that you see are all pics that will not appear on Trystan's webpage. I like the first two because of the choreographed architecture between Trystan and the whales. But just like we needed to have Trystan's face in the pics, we also needed his dance partner's.
I particularly like this twisty one. We took these after the Labor Day weekend and the whales had just started a lighter "show" schedule. Because of this I think they were especially playful, because they were "on vacation" after their 4 show days in the summer.
As their wonderful trainers told us, you pretty much "suggest" to a killer whale what you want it to do. Lucky for us, 3 of them wanted to play, including Baby Shamu. Its too bad that this isn't a video, because he was pretty adorable for being a fearsome marine predator. He kept smiling, sticking his tongue out, blowing bubbles, and even spinning around doing underwater pirouettes.
Finally, when we were done and ready to jet off to the Shark Encounter, one of the trainers asked us if we wanted to hug Shamu. Well, how could we refuse?

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Faceless Dancer

Now personally, from an artistic standpoint, I really like this picture of Julio.
But when each dancer only gets 5 pictures on their website, they really need to have their face in the shot. Still I love the whole open back, head thrown back thing thats going on in the photo.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On the Rocks

We had a lot of great evocative photos from Noriko's shoot at La Jolla Cove. In the end, I decided to go with the happier ones for her webpage. But here are a couple of the "moodier" ones.
These were shot at the sea wall that encloses the "Children's Pool", which we in San Diego have come to know as the Seal Pool, because of the seals and sealions which have taken it over (to the delight of many and the ire of a few). As a dancer, Noriko always brings a sense of drama to everything she does. So the whole windswept romantic tutu thing was something she could have fun with. It was also nice for her because she tends to be cast in powerful jumping roles. So it was a change of pace.
This photo has a lovely soft quality to it, thats the problem. It just wasn't specific enough to stand on its own in a group. By itself, it is nice. But in a group it just faded into the background. One note about the costume. This is a case of something that "photographs well," but maybe closeup doesn't look like much. It weighs next to nothing.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Beautiful Mistake.

This photo of Rachel was completely unplanned.
We were shooting her at the USS Midway Museum and decided to take a stroll down to Seaport Village to see what we could find down there. As we were walking along the bay, I saw this wall and I thought it would make an interesting shot. I was particularly taken by the greyish-blue hue of the bay against the tuna boats. I thought it would make a nice contrast to Rachel's dress as well. We had other pictures of dancers on walls, but Rachel is such a long elegant dancer that rather than sitting, I asked her to "drape" herself across it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

On the Edge of the World

I chose this pic of Meghan for her webpage, because it isn't quite so posed.
She appears to be just caught in the moment in the middle of the street. Like those old verite' photos of American girls in Italy in the 50's. Also the skirt has a nice amount of life to it, without being to distracting. For anyone visiting San Diego (or many of the locals), you can't really understand the lay of the town, if you don't get up to the Cabrillo Monument. I had never been until I had turned 40. It really does put the city, Coronado, Mexico, and the Pacific Ocean into perspective.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hanging at the Hotel

This is such a great picture of SDB dancer Leila Gardner.
It highlights some of the qualities that make her such an interesting dancer. She is lean and direct, but still has a great deal of mystery to her dancing. Somehow, even though she is draped along the balustrade of the Hotel Del Coronado pool, to me she looks like some exotic hot house flower in a greenhouse in the deep South.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

You Belong In The Zoo!

One of my favorite places in San Diego is the San Diego Zoo. I have so many fond memories going back to a zoology class I took in 4th grade summer school, where we were basically taken there everyday and allowed to run rampant from 8 to 12. So of course, I was looking forward to this shoot (even though I am a zoo member and can go in an unlimited number of times. What a deal!
We knew we wanted to shoot at the flamingo lagoon, but the zoo also suggested that we take a look at their new Elephant Odyssey exhibit. When we got there the handler was just bringing the elephants out, so we decided to play around on the great statues of the ancient mammoths at the beginning of the exhibit. Although this shot wasn't used, I love it because Stephanie looks like a little girl who wanted a pony for her birthday... and got an elephant instead! Once we did start the shoot with the real elephants, the zoo staff couldn't have been nicer. As far as Stephanie's costume, I knew that I wanted a white tutu with the elephants. It was sort of an homage to the Stravinsky/Balanchine elephant ballet that was famously created for Vera Zorina and Modoc, the elephant. As the story goes, Ringling Bros, & Barnum and Bailey Circus asked George Balanchine to choreograph a ballet on their elephants for a special performance. Balanchine called Igor Stravinsky and asked: "Would you like to do a little ballet with me?" "For whom?" asked Stravinsky. "For some elephants." answered Balanchine without hesitation. "How old?" asked Stravinsky, without missing a beat. "Very young." replied Balanchine. "All right," said the great Russian composer, "If they are very young elephants, I will do it." Such a nice story, because it reminds us that humor and a willingness to do new things are wonderful qualities for artists to have.
When we got to the Flamingo Lagoon, we started taking lots of great photos. But the new Flamingo Lagoon (as great as it is) doesn't have the same kind of "backdrop" quality that the zoo's original Flamingo Lagoon did. So I started squatting down to see if we couldn't get the angle we needed. And we kept asking Stephanie to get lower.. and lower. Finally we were all at ground level, but we did manage to get what we needed. Of course, it was great that we were there before the public came in, otherwise they would have seen a very strange photo shoot.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Curves, Lines, Rays...

For the dancers webpages, I generally like to see their faces. But I did include this image of Christine Owens on her page, because I like all of the angles. The rigging, the lines in the sail, the right angle made by her legs. It reminds me of one of those things that you make in math/art class with the string and the nails, where you make spirals and curves out of straight lines. That... or the Spirograph gadget I had as a kid.

Just as an aside, this was not a shoot I went on. I can't even go on a docked boat like the Star of India without getting seasick.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


I love this photo because the energy of the background matches the energy of the dancer.
Kirsten Thorne is, quite simply, a powerhouse of a dancer. She gets as much elevation in her jumps as the male dancers in the company and thrives on quick, yet expansive, movements. She is one of those dancers that you just sort of "let loose" on stage. There were other photos in this Belmont Park shoot that were quite stunning (a rollercoaster, a wave machine, a plunge), but the added subtitling of the pic by the CHAOS ride in the background, just makes me smile. It also looks a bit as if Kirsten is a constellation on the edge of a spiral galaxy.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

One More of Heather

Just one more Heather pic.
We had taken a few images before this one. As a matter of fact, Graham had done a couple of shoots without me, as I was out of town. Heather's was the first that I joined him on. As we were in Balboa Park, I told him that I wanted to shoot in the courtyard of the Old Globe. We got Heather up on a wall and I think that was when it really clicked for Graham about what I wanted to do with the images.
The San Diego backgrounds weren't just meant to be pretty or interesting backdrops for the dancers. The idea was to show the ballet company as integral to San Diego as the locations that we shot at.
After we took these shots, we went back to the reflecting pool and actually shot the picture in the preceding post.

Friday, October 02, 2009

America's Finest City... Dances! I'm back!

Hello Dear Neglected Blog,
Well, a new season has started over at the San Diego Ballet. Our 20th as a matter of fact. Lots to talk about and I will, but right now we are getting ready to open a photo exhibition in our hallway gallery. Bear with me if you already know this. To commemorate our anniversary, we have commissioned photographer Graham Blair to shoot our company dancers against various iconic San Diego locations, like Heather Anzalone in Balboa Park below.

Graham has done a wonderful job and printed a variety of the images for the gallery. For that, I have pretty much left it up to him which images he wanted to. However, we are also posting them on the website, and for that purpose, I have chosen the 5 I like the most. Photographers and dancers have different priorities in pics (as has been mentioned before). So I am going to take this opportunity to post a few of the pics and explain why I like them.

Heather's photo above is a no brainer. Everybody loves it. The costume, dancer, and backdrop are so harmonious that they look like a painting. That said I am rather fond of another photo that didn't make either the photography exhibit or the website. It is very similar.
I love this image because it makes Heather look like a movie star from the 30's or 40's. Like Ginger Rogers in Flying Down To Rio. And it also is much more representational of real Heather's personality. But as nice as it is, there is just something a little more "special" about the other one. Since it is so similar to the other in terms of setting and pose, we had to decide between the two.

Most of these shoots have been in the morning. Heather's was no exception. But we did have to do a bit of battling photographers. Balboa Park is such a popular setting, we were shooting at the same time a bride was getting her photos done. They are pretty much just out of camera range in all of the shots we took around the pool. Sorry to ruin the illusion.