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.