Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dancers Among Us Makes a Big Splash in Miami


I read the ominous sign next to the sprawling pool at the famous Fontainebleau Miami Beach. I looked around and saw security personnel everywhere, ready to pounce at any infraction. This was going to be a problem.

Seventeen-year-old dancer Annie Gaddis and her mother Jackie drove three hours from Fort Myers to participate in Dancers Among Us. She brought a bright pink bikini. I wanted to photograph her jumping into the pool. I didn't have another idea. It had to happen.

I decided to pull some strings- I called my new BFF Mary Barrett, VP of Operations at Fontainebleau. We spent the day before bonding during an intense corporate headshot marathon, which I documented in yesterday's blog "Shooting Corporate Headshots for Miami's Biggest Vice- The World Famous Fontainebleau Resort".

"What do you want? You must want something or you wouldn't be calling." Imagine this said with an Irish accent and a twinkle in her voice. True love.

"Pool access. I want a dancer to jump in the pool. Just a few times. We'll be very discrete."

"Done." She's not one for small talk.

My initial idea was to have Annie sunbathing over the water while holding a tanning reflector. I found a good perspective that incorporated two well-placed onlookers, and we tried it a few times.

The reflector wasn't working. I wanted her to be more engaged in an activity. What about reading? I looked around and struck gold- Miami Magazine (I love to identify the location whenever possible)! I handed her a plastic cup as well.

"You're drinking water and holding the magazine towards the camera so I can read it. Try to keep the magazine out of the water when you land so it stays dry. We might have to do this a few times."

Yes, just a few.

Wow, that actually looks really good. It couldn't be that easy, right? I decided to try a different perspective. I wanted her to be more featured, perhaps soaring in the blue sky. And I wanted more palm trees.

I love it! Unfortunately, the magazine keeps blocking her back foot. Annie suggests a different pose.

I love it more! That's a pose I've never used. Amazing. Almost perfect.

"The magazine needs to be turned just a little more towards the camera, and the cup should be closer to your bottom lip."

"Legs are perfect. Turn the magazine towards me. The cup is past your bottom lip now. Bring it back up."

"Legs are amazing, but you covered your face with the magazine, which could be kind of cool but probably not."

"Perfect cup placement, but the legs are turned slightly too far away from me. I don't like the separation. Plus the magazine is wet so it's folding over at the corner. Let's get a different issue."

"God it's so close. The magazine needs to be a hair turned towards me. Plus I like the first issue better. The 'Miami' is more clear. Love the dude in the shot though."

"So, so close. Love the old guy checking you out, but your feet are not exactly together, and that damn magazine is folding over just a little. Plus the cup placement is off again. Keep it in your mouth."

"Beautiful, but your legs can get a little higher- press them against your butt. And please, Photography Gods, give me one time when the magazine doesn't fold over."

"Aggghhhhh, it's perfect except for the magazine. Everything else is absolutely perfect. I don't know what to tell you. Maybe a slight turn of the wrist? Maybe a prayer? Something to get that cover legible. Let's try it one more time."

click to enlarge

"Perfection!! Amazing work, Annie."

Forty-five splashes later, we had our shot. I turned around to see a crowd gathered. So much for the discretion I had promised Mary. I showed everyone the photo, and they all gasped. One woman commented, "The photo makes it look so easy, but it isn't at all."

"Maybe I should write a blog that explains exactly how difficult it was." I replied.

"Yes, you should."