Thursday, January 6, 2011

And You Thought Shoveling Was Hard Enough...

Yesterday I photographed Allison Griffith's actor headshots. She's a musical theatre actress and freshman at Point Park University.

During the course of the shoot, she mentioned that she's a hip-hop dancer as well. She also mentioned her interest in Dancers Among Us.

Now I've been pretty fortunate to work with some amazing dancers for this project, so I said something like, "Well, let's see what you've got." Said with a smile, but a challenge nonetheless (I've got high standards, after all). Allison thought for a minute and then said, "Well, I can do this."

"This" was some kind of headstand/backflip combo that I'd never seen before. It looked like she was levitating on her hair! Very difficult to photograph as well - to the naked eye it's a blur.

BUT I had to capture this move for my project. All we needed was an action of some kind. When I mentioned that I wanted to use the grungy city snow somehow, my makeup artist extraordinaire and dance collaborator Pamela Bob said, "I have a yellow shovel in my car." Bingo!

Now for the impossible part - "Allison, I need you to grab the shovel in the middle of your backflip. I think it's impossible, but let's give it a try." Really, this was as challenging as anything I've asked a dancer to do. She starts the flip in a headstand, then she pushes off with her hands, so when in the world can she grab the shovel? She's only off the ground for a millisecond. She was an amazing trooper though, trying again and again. But she kept missing the shovel.

A couple of times she managed to grab the shovel, but her feet had already landed. Still a cool photo, but not quite as impressive.

Finally, after 48 jumps, Allison managed to grab the shovel while in the air. Unbelievable! And thank God (or Nikon) it's in focus!