Modern Dance Project – John Olson

Submitted by Member John Olson


John Olson has been working on a modern dance project.  As he describes it “The athleticism and stamina of dancers has interested me since my early adult life.  Their movement can be so effortless and fluid like, and their strength is generated much like a martial artist uses their knowledge of balance, leverage and momentum.”

John became involved in the project when “Several years ago I was fortunate to meet two wonderfully talented dancers at a photo workshop.  Their movement as models matched my personal approach to photographing subjects in motion.”  After the workshop, John’s interest was rewarded with an invitation from the dancers to attend some of their early practice sessions three years ago.  He then began to immerse himself in the dancers movements, action and theatrical performance.
John relates that “static poses always bored me.”  Rather, the challenge of creating a still image of a moving subject is what drives him photographically.  Modern dance offered a perfect opportunity for a photo project because it is characterized by very unpredictable movements and the ever-changing theatrical expressions of the actors.

A recent practice session of the dance troupe took John to a yoga studio in St Paul, Minnesota.  The small studio space, fluorescent lighting, artifacts on the walls and the floor created a number of challenges he had to overcome, in addition to dealing with the movement of the dancers.  Lying on the floor on his side, shooting at eye level offered John the best vantage point to portray the dancers.  He ultimately did a great job of capturing their form, flexibility, and expressions .

The performers, Gerald and Sharon, shot in very low stage lighting, no flash, and very high ISO using a Nikon D700 with a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, and a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens.


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