I'd had in mind to photograph someone doing ballet, but I also have a preference for someone who can show a range of facial expressions as well. After perusing Model Mayhem and finding Alaish's profile, I went to her website and found that she's an actress and also knows a little ballet. I asked her if she was interested in a shoot and she agreed.
I chose Stern Grove as our location because the textures of the park lend itself to so many different backgrounds. And also, there's a small chalet in the park that I'd hadn't really shot at.
Alaish struck a pose for this first shot. I like the lines in the background, plus the contrasting lines that her body makes. There's symmetry and balance to the image. For this shot and the second shot, we made use of the stage at Stern Grove. Since concert season hadn't started yet, the stage was devoid of much of the heavy equipment that normally is set up during the summer concerts.
This second shot too, with her hands held up in prayer, again creates a sense of balance and symmetry. Just like the first shot, it's all natural lighting. It was an overcast day in San Francisco, so there were no worries about using a speedlight or reflector on her.
I saw a cherry blossom tree during my reconnoiter of the park a few days earlier and knew that I had to take her photo near the tree. We found a spot for her to sit and I framed the shot so that the cherry blossoms would highlight the upper portion of the frame, creating a balance between the her dark dance outfit and the brightness of the flowers themselves.
This fourth shot is what I call my Eponine shot. I had in mind to capture a little sadness, and I was hoping that Alaish would be able to give me something similar to a sad longing. As you can see, she did it. And the image below conveys that sad longing, perhaps of love lost, and momentary grief, and yet a resiliency to go on.
This final shot is my favorite of the entire shoot! It brings several compositional elements together that have always intrigued me: balance and leading lines.
There's so many leading lines in the above photo, from the pillars to the white fence to the yellow wood paneling of the house, plus the straightness of her legs and the angle of her right leg touching one of the leading lines. There's balance in the photo too, from dark to light, and with her pose itself.
This was definitely a fun shoot. I like working with actors, because I like pulling out emotions. A single look can change the emotion of a photo and unleash the story within it.
If you'd like to book Alaish for a gig, check out her website.
Gear used: Fuji X-T2 with 56mm f/1.2 lens.