Dance Studio Photoshoot

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This week I shot some photos for the dance studio Swing Connexion to replace some of the teacher photos on the website. After some experimenting with various places in the studio to take the pictures, I decided to go with a simple wall background with only one distinguishable piece of furniture – the iconic orange sofa chair.

Summer has always been my favourite time of the year to shoot portraitures because natural lighting is, as expected, a lot more abundant. Also people seem to be a lot more relaxed than even one season ago, which in Montréal literally means winter. For this shoot, I used a simple setup of a large softbox 45 degrees to the top right of the dancers. On my second day of shooting however, I added a second light 90 degrees to the left to just smooth out some of the harsh shadows I was getting with only one light. Overall I’m pretty pleased with the results and the overall improvements of my lighting technique. No longer am I just turning knobs up and down and firing blindly, but I’m actually making conscience decisions on how I want the pictures to turn up.

Check out some of the photos below!

Photo Published on CTR!

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Hey neat thing – I got one of my burlesque photos of Melody Mangler on an article for Canadian Theatre Review! I forgot all about this since the writer contacted me about publishing one of my photos so this was a nice little treat this week.

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TUX 2014 Photo Wall of Criminals

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Kevin Sue!

By far, TUX (the Toronto University Exchange) encapsulates the spirit and randomness of lindy hop the most in all of the events in Toronto. Heads and shoulders above every other event and all run by students!

Even though I feel that I’m in the old farts demographic of this event (most of the participants are new university dancers), I cannot help feel nostalgic every time go to TUX and see the smiley awkward faces (but determined and having a blast) of university dancers haha! Like most lindy hoppers, I too started at a university swing club and will always fondly remember the crazy times of learning new dance moves and meeting new soon-to-be friends all because we all shared the same excitement of running around and jumping. I mean, it’s still like that for me today but not with the same hazy feeling of careless abandonment if you know what I mean.

Running the photobooth at TUX is like herding cats. From my experience, putting a camera in front of people’s faces in a dance setting usually results in two reactions: fear/apprehension or crazy excitement. The latter usually results in dancers forgetting how to walk in a humanlike manner or remember that photos are actually still shots – meaning that they don’t need to act out what they want their picture to be like. There were many times that dancers ran into the lights or almost tripped on the cords just because they forgot they were there (but how? it’s like 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide!). Even with Alex L. and I sandbagging the lights down (with kitty litter!) and taping the cords on the floor, I think I need to come up with a different strategy for big events in terms of setup because a misplaced step could equate to a long process with the insurance company. I’m getting better at directing people though – I made an “x” marks the spot on the ground for people to stand on but sometimes people getting photographed will do whatever they want haha.

All in all though, I had a great time and I always look forward to the craziness of TUX. Turlough of Montréal and I had a selfie tour extravaganza which was full of lawls and everything I had to do work-wise went well so it was a productive$ weekend all around.

Most of the photos can be found on the event facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.588840264538474.1073741831.153501111405727&type=1 . If you want to get some high-res pics of any of the shots, just give me a shout on email (randypante at gmail dot com).

Mobile Ring Flash – Knife to a Fist Fight

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Often I think that bringing a ring flash to a photo shoot is like bringing a knife to a fist fight. There is a point of no return when you decide to do it and you better hope the stars are in alignment for the gambit to work. Due to the setup time and luggage carrying toll of deciding to use a ring flash, it really isn’t practical to be “testing” out whether the lighting idea will work out on most shoots. Unless you are lucky enough to have very patient subjects and a lot of time on location, most event shoots require the photographer to be up and ready to shoot as soon as possible and get subjects having a lot of fun and being silly instead of watching the photog fumble around with light modifiers.

There are definite pros of bringing a ring flash that allows you to shoot very distinct portraits and close-ups: nice even lighting, unique outline shadow around the subject, and for the most part, flattering to most subjects (with super pale skin being the exception). You have to know how to wield it properly though, you can’t just go willy-nily and use ring-flashes in random situations. It’s a very particular look that can get over-played if you are not careful. When it does work though, it’s a super awesome way to get great face pics without too much adjusting on the fly. Just be prepared for the initial shock of your subjects seeing a giant circle of light right in front of their faces haha.

B1 Bar PhotoBooth!

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This week I shot a photo booth at the B1 Bar in Montréal to, if my translation is correct, kick prostate cancer’s butt! By selling man-ly calendars of course! Wish I could grow a mustache. Anyhoo, what a neat bar this place is. If you are around the St-Denis/Sherbrooke neighbourhood one day, I do recommend to check them out.

What was fun from a photographer’s perspective about this gig was the actual photobooth area was about the width of my arm wingspan – meaning not very wide at all. Getting the lights into the space positioned in a fairly good place was a pretty fun puzzle to figure it out. Making sure my lights were not knocked over in the bar was also an interesting challenge to tackle throughout the night.

Pictures after the jump!

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