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.

Kathleen, Tennis Court

September 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm


Sum­mer 2013, Mont­ford Park Asheville TN. Pho­tog­ra­phy from a long ago ses­sion that I finally put together.

A Bending of Its Own Kind

July 1, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Oz Arts hosted FALL in June 2017 for “A Bend­ing of Its Own Kind”, and here are some of my favorite pho­tographs from that performance.

Photo Exploration — FALL Rehearsals, July 2015

July 29, 2015 at 4:34 pm

I was for­tu­nate to be the Sideshow Fringe Fes­ti­val 2015 pho­tog­ra­pher, and as always there were many incred­i­ble ses­sions of the­ater, aeri­al­ists, pup­pets, and music. There are many, many, many tac­tics one can uti­lize when pho­tograph­ing per­for­mances. Long expo­sures, high-ISO cap­tures, processed images to high­light the per­former — all are good options. Another option on engag­ing the sub­ject: shoot once, process none. Shoot film, process, and take what develops.

In addi­tion to the actual live per­for­mances, I was also invited to check out some rehearsals, includ­ing the work of the FALL com­pany. It was pretty incred­i­ble to lis­ten in and hear some of their process as they rehearsed through the work, and to try and unob­tru­sively cap­ture some of the dis­cus­sions in pho­tos. Below are three of those images next to one of the per­form­ers dur­ing the rehearsal set.

FALL Rehearsing, Side Show Fringe Festival 2015

FALL Rehears­ing, Side Show Fringe Fes­ti­val 2015

Giv­ing up some con­trol with the medium lets me work in the avail­able light­ing and motion with­out stress­ing over the upcom­ing post-processing. A chance to pho­to­graph the mood and ambi­ence in the unpol­ished envi­ron­ment. A bit of a looser, yet more focused, feel­ing from the per­form­ers seems to come out in rehearsals. When the dancers are con­tin­u­ing the com­mit­ment of their work to mus­cle mem­ory it’s almost like a photo cri­tique. Peo­ple are look­ing for input, look­ing for encour­age­ment, but also any­thing that helps rise the level of the work is welcome.

Many thanks to FALL for allow­ing me to shoot the rehearsals!

Photo Exploration: The Bird (or Movement IV)

March 8, 2015 at 8:56 pm

Aeri­al­ists are incred­i­ble. Flat out, hands down — some of the most enter­tain­ing per­form­ers com­bined with incred­i­ble phys­i­cal abil­i­ties. Twist­ing, pulling, turn­ing, falling — it’s amaz­ing. See­ing an aer­ial per­for­mance is great. Always, always, always go if you have the chance. The photo below is from the 2014 Sideshow Fringe Fes­ti­val. This ses­sion was with the FALL dance com­pany and Aer­ial Fab­ri­ca­tors.

The Bird (Movement IV, SSF 2014)

The Bird (Move­ment IV, SSF 2014)

It’s been a long time since the last photo explo­ration post. The fall and win­ter were a pro­duc­tive time, just not for updat­ing this part of the web­site. So let’s dig in one a photo taken around the time of the last photo explo­ration!

Long expo­sures a great. They are easy to do, fun to share, and usu­ally pro­vide some very inter­est­ing results. Almost every pho­tog­ra­pher I know has gone through a water­fall period, which usu­ally involves con­sid­er­a­tions for ND fil­ters, low-as-possible-ISO, stop­ping down the lens and look­ing for the shadi­est spot pos­si­ble to get a good image of creamy water over still rocks. For that mat­ter, I still do those shots when the oppor­tu­nity arises!

How­ever, when work­ing in a black box the­ater with high con­trast spot lights, it’s much eas­ier to do long expo­sures than any­thing else. The ques­tion is, just HOW long should that expo­sure be? 1 sec­ond? 5? 1/2″? It’s trial and error at the start, and with per­for­mances you might not get a sec­ond chance. Pro tip: auto-bracketing helps tremen­dously in this sit­u­a­tion. But once you get the set­tings dialed in for the scene, some fan­tas­tic work can be captured.

I remem­ber the piece being incred­i­ble. Bursts of motion over­laid on still and gen­tle cross­ings of the stage. When the per­form­ers were climb­ing, it seemed like they could have stayed aloft for­ever. When one came down, it was like a bird emerg­ing from the egg and imme­di­ately tak­ing flight. Enthralling, to say the least!

Movement at the Sideshow Fringe, August 2014

August 13, 2014 at 11:02 am

Move­ment pho­tog­ra­phy at the 2014 Sideshow Fringe Fes­ti­val. Beau­ti­ful per­for­mances with the FALL dance com­pany and Aer­ial Fab­ri­ca­tors.

Thank you to Jes­sika Mal­one and the entire Sideshow Fringe team for invit­ing me to be part of the event this year!

Photo Exploration: Kathleen, Dancing at Night

October 16, 2013 at 4:54 pm

When the time came to leave Asheville, I real­ized that there were a few ses­sions that were “must-do” before the move. One of these was to work one-on-one with Kath­leen Hahn, a dancer/choreographer/innovator/all-around-great person.

We were orig­i­nally going to do her Fever dance from four per­spec­tives, shot in the freezer sec­tion of a local Ingle’s. Mid-way through our first per­spec­tive, secu­rity let us know that pho­tog­ra­phy was not allowed. Which was a relief in a way, as it did make clear that danc­ing is absolutely allowed in the gro­cery. So — if you are ever look­ing for a place to per­form a dance piece, I’d say con­sider Ingle’s. Even light­ing and always a crowd.

Since our orig­i­nal plan didn’t work, we decided to move to a more open envi­ron­ment. The ten­nis courts in Mont­ford were ideal — empty of peo­ple, col­or­ful and avail­able. Kath­leen started her rou­tine and I started mak­ing pho­tographs. I loved the results — some of the stills are incred­i­ble, as you can see here and here. But at some point in the pro­cess­ing, I started won­der­ing if they images could be lay­ered to any pos­i­tive out­come. With the gro­cery pieces, three lay­ers per image seemed suit­able, but the hor­i­zon­tal stage and lines of the ten­nis courts opened the image up for more. I think this final image is taken from thirty indi­vid­ual frames.

Kathleen, Fever.

Kath­leen, Fever. August 2013

Each of the frames had to be adjusted to fit the image as I was hand­hold­ing the cam­era and not par­tic­u­larly intend­ing this result. But the paint and net gave reli­able guides to com­bine the frames into one. I used Pho­to­shop to place the lay­ers, which are all com­bined with the Lighten mode. I then did a gen­eral Adjust­ment Layer for con­trast and white bal­ance over all the frame layers.

I’m very excited about this piece, as it resulted from what could have been a dis­ap­point­ing end of the orig­i­nal ses­sion. How­ever, if we’d stayed in the gro­cery we would have never found the ten­nis courts as a venue. I am also pleased with the dig­i­tal work — I had been shoot­ing film for so long before this ses­sion I had for­got­ten some of the ben­e­fits of work­ing with vari­able ISO’s, quick frames per sec­ond and (vir­tu­ally) unlim­ited image stor­age. A good use case for the flex­i­bil­ity of digital.

Thanks to Kath­leen for being part of this session!

Kathleen, Fever. August 2013

October 15, 2013 at 3:05 pm

[slideshow_deploy id=‘1732’]

A fun and boundary-pushing pho­tog­ra­phy ses­sion with Kath­leen Hahn of Asheville, NC.