Kathleen, Asheville. March 2018

March 23, 2018 at 4:58 pm

Some pho­to­shoots are fun, some are stress­ful, some are for learn­ing from mis­takes and some are for teach­ing. Some are for­ma­tional, and a very rare few are those which you know — even mid-work — there will be a “before” and “after” against which every­thing else is created.

Both times I’ve worked solo with Kath­leen Hahn of idodances.com and Dance­club Asheville have been those last types. Her abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate not just through dance but in the dia­logue before and after a piece is unique and I’m all the bet­ter a pho­tog­ra­pher for it. Our first ses­sion was a time lapse of sorts, her danc­ing in var­i­ous places and com­bin­ing them in post­pro­duc­tion. The rep­re­sen­ta­tive piece of that ses­sion is “Ten­nis Courts”.

This ses­sion, indoors at her stu­dio in Asheville, was entirely dif­fer­ent. We were look­ing for indi­vid­ual moments where Kath­leen was mov­ing much less delib­er­ately, with quicker move­ments but with more com­mu­ni­ca­tion between us. It was also a ses­sion where she was using a pole, which sur­faced a num­ber of lay­ers to the work.

As a male pho­tog­ra­pher, it’s easy to be in the posi­tion of power in a pho­to­shoot. Ooften the pho­tog­ra­phy stu­dio is intim­i­dat­ing itself, and one is work­ing with a sub­ject who can­not eas­ily stop and say “show me what you have so far”. There are often dis­crep­an­cies in vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and also the inher­ent prob­lem of “male gaze” that must be addressed in every shoot. Put all of the above together along­side a ses­sion in a dance stu­dio where a main impe­tus is to reclaim all dance forms from patri­archy (if not too strong a phrase here) and impart con­fi­dence, my emo­tions were all over the place. “Should I be here with my cam­era? Should I be here at all? What is my role, what is Kathleen’s role? Why can I do this with Kath­leen as a friend, and is that dif­fer­ent than a pro­fes­sional? Can I pub­lish these? Should I even con­sider sell­ing prints of these?”

For­tu­nately, Kath­leen was more than up for the con­ver­sa­tion before, dur­ing, and after the shoot. And just as before, I came away a lit­tle wiser and grate­ful for all those I encounter in my photography.