Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dancing in the... blizzard?!

"Stay inside! Don't travel! Armageddon is around the corner!" warnings by every news organization on December 26, 2010.

As the most recent Blizzard of the Century blanketed the east coast, with white out conditions on all the roads and public transportation at a stand still, it was probably not the greatest idea to leave a warm house and drive 25 miles to Times Square to take dance photographs for my Dancers Among Us project.

But that's just what I did.

My insanity was matched by dancer extraordinaire Jennifer Jones (fresh off a performance with the Mark Morris Dance Company). She landed at JFK in the thick of the storm, and minutes later headed straight to Midtown to pose for me. I've always wanted a snowstorm photo for Dancers Among Us. As usual, I had no specific plan when we met, so we improvised.

I wanted the photo to feel celebratory, so I asked Jennifer if a jump was possible. She didn't feel safe - slippery conditions, 60 mph winds, frigid temperatures, Dansco shoes - so we tried a standing pose. I borrowed a red hat from someone who very well may have been Ben Vereen. He gave us three minutes. Jennifer improvised a pose, reaching up to catch the snow.

We took a thaw break and reviewed the image. We both knew it could be better.

Jennifer agreed the pose had to be a jump, and she threw herself and caution to the wind. I tried an environmental set-up, using a wide-angle lens and featuring lots of people.

It’s okay, but it could still be better. I felt the people were distracting, and I wanted the feeling of Times Square fading into the blizzard.

After another thaw break, we went to a new location and Jennifer came up with a terrific jump.

Unfortunately I just missed my timing, and I captured her back leg too low. Bummer, given the fun background action.

Beautiful pose, though no humor in the background this time. I like the people huddled together contrasting Jennifer's joyful energy. Now we really needed a thaw break - her hands were turning purple.

When we went back outside, a Starbucks holiday cup was drifting across the snow. I considered it a sign. I am looking for a corporate sponsor, after all!

I really think Jennifer was approaching a state of shock. So when I turned my head and saw the famous 42nd Street subway station, I almost didn't ask her to jump again. Almost.

After we finished shooting, Jennifer explained why these photographs are so personal to her. You can see the video by clicking here.