I've been photographing and providing content for Buffalo's own LehrerDance since August 2007. The story is actually quite interesting, at least for me. My roommate at the time was (still is) of the company members and the day of their Buffalo Premiere on a hot, muggy August day he called me in a panic. Long story short their media crew that they hired had bailed on them last minute and Jon (the Lehrer of LehrerDance) needed someone to come video tape the pieces for archival use and promo work. Not having anything to do that day I grabbed my gear and saved the day for them. Since that day I've been working with this great company providing them photography and media content.
Up until recently though I hadn't done a studio shoot with them, only live photography. Mainly because I lacked a studio and the minimal gear required to perform such a worthy task. So I have three years of live photography and video but nothing from the studio. Luckily for me LehrerDance has a partnership with the University at Buffalo's Department of Theater and Dance and they rehearse in their black box theater daily. So I was able to round up some white seamless and three flashes (two 430's and a 580) and went to town with them.
Now, admittedly, I'm not a great studio shooter. Mainly due to not having any space, and prior to 2009 no more than one off camera flash unit. I know basic lighting techniques due to my background with lighting for video. Turns out, while very similar, lighting for still is like riding a horse through a carwash. However I stabbed my way through the shoot and made it out alive, just barely (the company members tend to pride themselves in leaping and nearly lept through me and my gear).
My setup was basic. Canon 580 unit on camera, one Canon 430 unit 45 degrees to my left @ 1/16 power and the other Canon 430 unit 90 degrees to my left @ 1/32 power providing side fill on the dancers. After some brief tests I went with this setup for a couple reasons.
• It provided my white seemless some texture and varied gradient of grey, especially in the foreground.
• The side fill @ 90 degrees provided me a nice sharp highlight on the bodies of the dancers.
• The 430 unit to my right at 45 degrees provided me an interesting shadow that I kept in. It made the dancers look like they were moving too fast too shoot, in the sense that their shadows were ahead of them. I could have lowered the power to 1/32 or 1/64 and still snapped crisp action shots but the shadow worked for me that day. Would I do it that way again? I'm not sure.
For my first studio attempt with the company I thought, and Jon did as well, that the shots turned out well. We've already begun planning the next one which we're shooting at a gymnastic center so the dancers will have more room to dive and jump with a softer landing.
I will say, and i'm completely bias, that the company is fantastic. They're very athletic, yet organic at the same time. I urge anyone to look into them or even go see them when they travel to your local performing arts center or university. You'll likely see me with them as I travel with them often.