Dancing On The Edge With Lou ReedMonday, August 11, 2008
Every once in a while I find negatives I have never used for anything or even noticed. I feel that the Holy Grail of photography is to develop your own style. For many years my style did not put me in a favourable light, particularly with the high paying ad agencies of Vancouver. They didn't want an identifiable style. They wanted the blandness to be found in the modern picture that has a perfect white background. People photographed with a perfect white background in different cities by different photographers will look the same in a photo spread. The white background evens the playing field.
In our age of Flickr and facebook more and more pictures look the same. There are situations that do not lend themselves to helping the photographer develop a style. A very good example is studio photography of ballerinas and male dancers shot in the air in a large studio. We can enjoy the grace, the perfection of form but the photographer, unless named, will remain unknown. The same can be said of live rock concert pictures. Whether you get the singer without a microphone or with one the picture will look like millions of others.
Some years ago I was invited to shoot some rehearsal shots for Dancing on the Edge which that year was held at the Vancouver Playhouse. Nobody paid me a cent but I had access to any area back stage. With some very fast b+w film I shot some pictures. It was not easy but I managed a few photographs. You can see three here. They are Ballet BC dancers. These pictures could have been taken by anybody and if I had not seen them in my files I would have never guessed that I was the photographer. They have no style. They simply record.
I prefer to have my dancers in my studio and to photograph them in portrait situations. These three photographs bore me but I do remember with excitement an event that day that I will never forget. I left the Playhouse for lunch and when I came back (via the back door that is entry point for both the Playhouse and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre) I turned left instead of right. But everything looked much the same. I ran into a man holding a guitar back stage and when I recognized him I realized my wrong turn. "What are you doing here?" Lou Reed asked me. I quickly apologized and made my exit.
That evening when I watched the opening night performance of Dancing On The Edge I could hear Sweet Jane next door.
The dancer whose face you see in the bottom is Miroslav Zydowicz my favourite male dancer ever from Ballet BC. There is more of him here. I decided to make my blog a dancing one tonight as I returned from my studio after a very pleasant session with three Arts Umbrella dancers. Artemis Gordon preened them and fussed over them and we all had a great time.