Irish Dance Photography In Chicago
Couldn't Be More Excited
When Colleen (Violet's mom) reached out to me to photograph Violet, an Irish dancer, I was beyond excited! I've admired Irish dancing ever since I saw River Dance years ago! The history, the elegance, athleticism and the fact that they use their bodies as an instrument...it's an incredibly dynamic, complex and stunning form of dance. It's a departure from photographing ballet dancers in Chicago, but it's a challenge I welcome with open arms.
Crazy Hair, Don't Care
I guess you can say having wild hair in images is part of my signature look. It's a great way to add motion and a little bit of drama without compromising image quality. Unless it's for an audition where there are strict rules, I like to let the dancers let loose.
With the right composition and a bit of editing magic, I really love how the sunlight hits her hair and creates this warm glow. I'd like to think she's like a ray of sunshine and can light up any room she walks in.
Violet Really Impressed Me
The birdie is not easy to pull off. And with me not accepting anything but her best, we had to try this shot multiple times! Not once did she complain or want to quit. Her attitude throughout the whole shoot was all positivity and willingness to try. Such an inspiring young lady!
Not only her tenacity, also how fast she's able to make adjustments on the fly. Non dancers don't realize how difficult it is to execute an aerial pose. You have a split second to generate power, nail your techniques, and make it look effortless (this is something missing from a lot of dance photography and I will address it in another blog post)! It's difficult for adult dancers let along someone who's only 9.
Collaborate and Create
The portrait of this beautiful Irish dancer by the railing is one such example. Violet saw the seagull and was fascinated by it. She wanted a photo taken with it. While some photographers might dismiss her off the cuff request, I thought, hey, that sounds fun! We took a couple of shots from a few different angles, and it's one of my favorite in the series!
All dance photographers should have some basic understanding of dance, but what's more important is the willingness to listen to the dancers. Majority of the time they know dance much better than you. Set your ego aside and consult them and really listen to their opinions. It will help you grow as a dance photographer and create a much more trusting environment between you and your dancers.
I've always loved the fact I'm able to provide an undisrupted bonding experience between parents and their children...even for just a couple of hours. There is no pressure or stress of competitions, and they are able to actively participate as hair/make up/stylist, unlike in a classroom setting.
It's important for me to set aside a little bit of time at the end of our shoot to capture some silly pictures of our time together. A dancer's journey is paved by loved ones around them. It might not be apparent to outsiders the sacrifices family members make, but from speaking with many dance parents, the time, energy and money it takes to raise a dancer is no cake walk!
"My daughter and I had the absolute best experience working with Jeff. From the beginning he was clear as to what to expect during the shoot. I knew we would be his first Irish dance client, so I came prepared with sheets of popular Irish dance moves, but I honestly don’t think I needed it! I could tell he had gone out of his way to research our dance form and was able to direct her during the shoot almost as well as any instructor. He conducted himself in a professional manner yet was not intimidating to my young dancer. Jeff loves dance and it shows in both how he works and in his beautiful photos. Thank you Jeff for our amazing photos!"
- Colleen Z.