Earlier this year I worked with Make Your Mark, (the Arts and Health programme for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, to run a short photography course for adults with a learning disability. We had two groups of participants working with me (Dougie Evans) to explore their perception of themselves and each other using lighting, movements and personal belongings. The project was developed in response to a need to heighten the profile of Learning Disability services as part of the Trust.
Engaging and Exploring
We used a participatory arts process, working with people who had used Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust services and focusing on their relationship with themselves and how they could explore and express this using photography.
Dougie’s approach was informal, inclusive and person centred and groups engaged right from the start. Several people wanted to know if there was going to be more sessions and the final groups said they didn’t want to go home.
Model Sophie Laugher joined me in Cheltenham to create some beautiful portraits with a sense of movement to them. Having shot so many dance photography sessions I was keen to see how I could merge some dance photography ideas with fashion photography.
I used some slow shutter speeds (shutter drag) to capture the movement of the model moving from one pose to another. We also used rear curtain sync to freeze a final position with flash so that we overlayed a clear portrait over motion blur.
Lastly we used a high shutter speed to freeze fast movement.
I’m really happy to announce that I have been featured in issue 61 of Olympus Magazine, a free, 100% interactive digital magazine that’s completely dedicated to Olympus users of all kinds.
I’ve been shooting dance for almost a decade. I started my photography just by documenting my own company, Lîla Dance, and as my skills grew my career developed into working with other dancers and companies all over the UK.
What I love about dance, is that it is an incredible way to express ourselves as humans – and the challenge of trying to capture that expression and movement in photography continues to inspire me. Some of these shots were taken in theatres using stage lighting from the show, and the others are with two or flashlights.
I like to get close to the dancer to show a more intimate expression of movement and choose a very precise point of focus. Experimenting with angles can provide a more unique perspective for the viewer, and low angles can make a jump look higher and the floor bigger.
Olympus Magazine, Issue 61 February 2019
If there are two people in the shot, I like to try and show their relationship through the expressions they use as they look at one another, and how close they are to each other.
I use an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II, and all my lenses are primes. My favourites are the 75mm f/1.8, 45mm f/1.8 and the 17mm f/1.8. I tend to use prime lenses because their faster apertures mean i can capture fast movement in low light. The 17mm is my most used lens in a studio set-up because using a short focal length allows me to capture a wide view from a close distance and helps to keep more action in focus.
If I am shooting without flash, I typically keep my shutter speed at least 1/500sec, but sometimes that still isn’t fast enough for a quick leg. In some ways, it’s easier to freeze morion with flash because even though your shutter speed is limited to 1/250sec, the flash speed is incredibly fast.
In a studio I’ll keep my ISO to a minimum, but I’m not afraid to crank it up to 3200 for capturing live performances in low light. I’m also not afraid to rely on autofocus when people are moving quickly, and the focus zone and face detect options allow you to keep some control over focus selection.
Here’s a collection of images from a test shoot with a local young dancer trying to find new ways to capture motion. The shots were made by combining a slow exposure (shutter drag) with a quick flash to freeze one image over motion blur.
Collaboration with ethical clothing company Posie Lingerie- The night doesn’t have to be over as soon as you get home. Grab a drink from the fridge, take off your makeup and get comfortable, because the night is as young as you feel.