I always wanted to shoot the portraits of a classic Bharatanatyam dancer, but by adding a modern touch to the 2000-year-old traditional dance form. Here is how we created dramatic dancer portraits with a little technique and lots of imagination.
I have a strong inclination towards everything that is culturally Indian, especially a special love for the Bharatanatyam dance. And I wanted to create something unique for the Bharatnatyam dancer. Bharatnatyam dancers through their body language and meticulous movements have carried the soul of this 2000-year-old traditional dance through the time. I have shot Bharatanatyam events, but there is very little control you have when the dancer is on the stage. As a photographer, I wanted to make pictures of the dancer but with a different perspective.
The Art of Collaboration
My dream was to add a modern touch to it but without disturbing the core essence of it. I started with the costume and saw how it can be modified. I had this image in mind where the dancer is in her free-flowing meticulous expression and I wanted to freeze the movement like a painting. My belief in pulling out such creative projects always lies in the strength of collaboration. A brilliant dancer, state of art lights from Profoto, an experienced makeup artist, and my passionate team at Studio A came together and we kick-started the effort. The BTS video, in the beginning, shows a full run of the process.
It was a three light set up. We used a Profoto D2 as the key light from the top, a Profoto B1X as the fill light from the side and the Profoto A1 as the backlight. The body movements are dynamic so we had a Sony A7Riii to capture all the action with the fast shutter.
Experimentation and Perfection
We took a lot of trial shots and improvised. Once we had the set of images, a great deal of time was spent in the editing desk in bringing out a painting touch to the images. It is always a delight to go beyond the obvious, experiment and come up with something new. I loved the results. Here are a few pictures from the shoot that follows. How do you like it?