Behind the Scenes: Dancing in the Dark

Soft and sultry meets dynamic and daring. That was the vision behind a recent photo shoot we did for our upcoming 2016 campaign. We wanted to explore the emblazoned movements of Dance – the powerful jumps, the long lines and elegant turns. Dance is compelling and changing, not static and still. But how do you capture the raw beauty and magnitude of dynamic movement in a still frame? Our creative team paired up with our friend and photographer, Matt Wright of Breedfreak Photography, to come up with a solution. Over a brainstorm session, we came up with a pretty brilliant (or so we think) idea. A few phone calls later, two of our favorite models (and dancers) Kenna Crouch and Sarah Navarrete were booked. The amazing marketing team at Free People overnighted a killer wardrobe and the location (for better or worse) was set. Would it work? Could we pull it off? We decided to let Matt tell the story from a photographer’s perspective…

Matt’s take: So, I was asked to do a series of images of dancers jumping on a black background for one of my most excellent clients – ToeSox. On first glance, this should have been a no brainer – drop a black background or shoot in a big room and we are good to go. The problem is that those approaches didn’t work in this case. Because there was twist to this scenario.

They wanted to catch the models in action mid-jump, flying high and in motion. After some creative problem solving, Kirsten, the Marketing Director, and I decided that the best way to do that was at a trampoline park. Yep, two girls, some lighting, great music and a trampoline, what could go wrong?

First – the trampoline park was green. Green everywhere. Green foam. Green walls. Green, green, green, everywhere you looked. Any light bouncing off the walls was going to give the dancers a sickly green hue to their skin and highlights. Yuk.

Second – we couldn’t hang a black background. The main issue (there were others) was that when the dancers fell into the foam pit they would have taken out the backdrop and possibly some pricey equipment too. The trampoline place was great, but you can only sign so many safety waivers without management getting twitchy.

We tried a bunch of different tools and techniques to prevent any light from hitting the back wall. Did I mention our time was tight (security was eyeballing us and little kids were constantly walking into our shooting area). So we had to roll with it, get what we could and keep the girls warm and flexible. “We’ll fix it in post” became the motto of the shoot. But once we got it sorted, some serious magic happened. The girls got bolder. They committed to each and every shot and the vision came to life. Sifting through the footage afterward was pretty fun.

Take a look at our little behind the scenes video. Behind the Scenes: Dancing in the Dark

After all was said and done, it was a bit like headlights of a car driving down a dark, windy road. Our vision was clear, but the path was not. We let go of expectation and let the artistry and creativity take shape. And it was epic! Many thanks to Matt, Kenna, Sarah, Get Air Trampoline Park and to Chrissy + Jessica at Free People. Some days at “the office” are better than others.