Sakura, in Japanese culture, translates to ‘Cherry Blossom’. This festival was scheduled to happen at a special park in Philadelphia. With my interest and curiosity tweaked, I decided to try and capture it through my lens.
drums beating in time
maidens twirling and frozen
The atmosphere of a festival can be both intoxicating and informative, especially one from a different culture than what I grew up in. Suddenly all that is foreign, becomes a reality into which one can immerse their senses.
bright circular fans
smiles and rhythms flow with pride
a past brought to life
While walking from one end of the park to the other, trying to catch each event can become a challenge, but the subconscious snap of my mind and shutter revealed its own rewards.
the essence in a single pond
zen like images
The aura and satisfaction that a few hours away from home can bring to ones soul helped me develop a more trans-formative outlook on the world… lets pass it forward!!!
Dancing is something I only dream I could pull off, but when utilizing photography, it becomes a different story altogether. By combining inspiration from Lois Greenfield (dance photography), Frank Veronsky (portrait), Denise Ippolito (creative-motion) and some street cred from DC Fahsbender, this has become my second attempt at shooting dancers. To give you a small snippet of what this involves, I would like to break it down for you. The recipe… throw 6 professional dancers into a narrow but high ceiling bowl (room) is key, as they need room to breathe (jump). Next, set up lighting and camera… the camera is very old school, meaning you get only one click before you have to reset the shutter… this is where personal taste and timing come into play. Tether this camera to a computer with a screen to sample (view) the results. As you can see, there are a lot of ingredients that are needed, including the right combination of music, movement and intuition.
Magic seems to happen when you start to feel both the music and a dancer’s interpretation. Timing, and an awareness of what will happen next, is what turns an almost shot into a perfect capture. This capture is what is very hard to connect with, as it only appears in milliseconds. If you could see my out-takes, you would fully understand how fleeting this is. The joy I get, is interacting with the dancers to create that moment. With no background in dance, I have to rely on my quick finger and an eye for composition.
When finished, I am able to open up the captures in my digital darkroom and discover what a dancer’s movements have created. Their forms react to the environment, and with a leap, twist or spin, their human core emits a note that is just as perfect as when played on an instrument. That sound (moment) is caught and then processed to create my own composition. I hope my photographs help you both see and hear the beauty in LIFE’s dance.
I get excited when I hear of an event in my area that I have never photographed before. My thought process is even more stimulated when the event is of a culture that I am not very well versed in. The celebration of the Chinese New Year in Philadelphia was one such event. It was to be the “Year of the Dragon” and the SJ meet up group was organizing this venue. It helped me get into the thought process by taking a train into the city and then walking up to Chinatown. As I approached my destination, I could see an arch that stretched from one side of the street to the other. I felt like it was welcoming me into a world and culture very different from mine.
As I meandered through Chinatown, the many signs and unique smells almost made me forget I was still in the city. The “Suns”, a local group of dancers and musicians, were preparing for the parade. They planned to stop at various businesses in the area and offer a blessing for the coming year. There was a brightly colored dragon which was serpentine in its shape and length. To create movement, there were dancers under the dragon that bobbed and weaved from sidewalk to sidewalk. The other elaborately decorated dragons were manipulated by groups of 2 that made their way to designated store fronts throughout the morning. This signaled a whirlwind of choreographed movements that symbolized bestowing a blessing onto the stores. The deafening sound of firecrackers mixed with drums, moved me in a crisscrossing pattern. Crowds were led by the smoke and the undulating progress of the dragon dancers while I attempted to capture the essence of what was happening. Looking around at the people watching this spectacle, I could see wonder and awe in the children’s faces, contrasted by a sense of pride from the older hierarchy.
Whatever way the new year is celebrated around the world, in Chinatown, the “Year of the Dragon” was set to a drum beat and punctuated with a bang. Whether a participant or spectator — just being there and sharing the moment was a blessing in itself.
Click…click…click, that is my camera’s heartbeat.
Step…twirl…leap, can you hear the dancer’s feet.
Movement forever frozen by the click of a shutter.
Flow and expression released in a flutter.
Click… the rhythmic forms are created.
Captured and released, never anticipated.
Click …click…click, that is my heartbeat.
The focus of a moment gives way to the subtle
but unmistakable, mechanical … click.
Playful, sensual, moody…click… I feel the beat.
A visual and kinetic form become one,
it is my dance now.
CLICK…. the heartbeat of the photographer’s dance.