Proud of Your Growth! Kaci.
If photography, to me, was all about money, I'd be shooing weddings. I could charge tons more, and send the files to have someone else edit them. Yes, you heard me right, a lot of high priced wedding photographers don't even edit their own images!
But, that's not where my passion lies. The more I photograph these amazing dancers, and get to know them...I realised it's about the people I meet along the way. This is the fourth time Kaci and I did dance photoshoots in Chicago. When I first met her, she had this...cute...bangs...possibly cut it herself (jk Kaci :D). We immediately hit it off. She was mature and passionate about dance. We've been through crazy pedestrians yelling at us at the Adler, we had to deal with gushing winds that could knock us over at Navy Pier, we survived a haunted room in Lincoln Park Conservatory, and possible dignitaries following us around at Milton Lee Olive park, LOL! Ok, I promise no more inside jokes :D
I had Kaci in mind when I decided to have custom wings made. A big part of that was because we have worked together 3 times prior. The chemistry and rapport we have built throughout the years, is not something money can buy.
One thing I noticed right away, is, while the wings look great in person, they look even more stunning on camera! Something else we found out, after putting the wings on, was they are not as secured as we'd like. I'd like to take this chance to educate dancers who are interested in doing an outdoor shoot...a lot of times, things don't go as planned. It's the nature of the shoot. Take this shoot for example, it was quite windy outside, so the wings would catch the wind and push Kaci off balance. It's quite different than a studio shoot, where you can control everything. That's why you don't see too many studio dance photographers do outdoor shoots. It takes a lot of experience to deal with the unexpected.
Kaci's green leotard really compliments the foliage. It wasn't quite golden hour, but with a little bit of the cloud in the sky, the light is softer than usual. With a little bit of editing magic (NOT PHOTOSHOP), the golden glow really sets the tone.
If you've been following me a while, it's no secret I love using the gorgeous Chicago architecture as part of my story telling. While there are a lot of shots of the the famous Centennial Wheel of Navy Pier, I haven't seen too many, if any, shots from this angle. What I love about this angle is how larger than life Kaci appears. From this perspective, it's hard to believe the Ferris wheel is about 200f tallt, and weights about 560 TONS! I would like to take this opportunity to fanboy over Kaci's brisé (the shot in the air)! Not only the height she gets, but I love the lines she's able to form in that split second!
The egg (squat shot), was extremely tough to pull of as is, but the condition that day made it even more difficult. It was windy, and the wings caught all of it...it was pushing her off balance. This shot is not her favorite. I'm including it in this blog post, not because I want to embarrass her, but to show that even with experience shooting outdoor dance, and with a talented subject, not every shot is going to turn out the way you had hoped. And that's ok. Both, photographers, and dancers, don't get discouraged. Learn from it and and move on. Letting one shot ruin your whole shoot is a terrible waste of your time and energy.
Some of you might be thinking: why isn't she wearing the wings? The simple answer is, the wings aren't meant for athletic poses, and I want variety for my shoots. Sometimes, less is more. A simple leotard helps draw the attention to the lines of the dancers.
Her saut de chat is...pardon my pun, leaps better than when we first worked together. It's one thing to think you have gotten better, or to hear someone say you have improved, it's another to have physical proof! It's undeniable. An image doesn't lie...especially when I DO NOT PHOTOSHOP!!! Kaci earned every bit of that leap and wack, and she earned every bit of that firebird! And I absolutely adore her portrait. So, calm, with a hint of quiet confidence, and hopefulness from the ray of golden light.
Another reason I love what I do, is I get to watch dancers grow. Through their hard work and dedication, you witness their improvement. I've had the honor to document her dance journey, and it never ceases to amazing how much she's grown and improved!
Light moves fast! Towards the end of the shoot, we had to be quick. Especially since the tall skyscrapers will block out the sun sooner than the normal golden hour. Now, I want to make this clear, I'm not a golden hour chaser. To me, it's just a different set of condition that offer different looks and feel. I've photographed dancers in Chicago and internationally, from right when the run rises, in the mid day glaring sun, golden hour, pouring rain to in the dark of the night.
Time also moves fast. I'm so happy for Kaci for her growth, and I'm happy for her family to be able to watch her blossom into a young woman, and have these lasting memories documented. I'm sure I've said this in other blog posts, but I live for the moments when a parenst send me a messages, telling me how they cried and bonded over the images and videos of their child.
I can't wait to see how far Kaci will go in her dance journey. The sky is literally the limit!
As always, I leave with you a silly post shoot selfie!
Jeff Yin Is an international award winning Dance Photographer from Chicago.