Latin Dance Digital Photography

Latin Dance Digital Photography - Introduction

Tango - Classic Pose

In order to photograph an activity, one must first have a clear idea of the core elements that define the activity in question.

I like to do that by carrying a mental (sometimes I write them down as well) list of adjectives that best sum up the activity.

Take latin dance for example. What set of words would you use to describe it?

For me the following immediately come to mind:

  • Rhythm
  • Poise
  • Elegance
  • Emotion
  • Story telling
  • Musical expression through movement
  • Partner connection
  • Sexy / Flirtatious
  • Fun

So even before the camera comes out of the bag - I have a clear idea of the message I should attempt to convey in the "frozen snap-shots of time" that the photographs will capture during what is after all a dynamic activity.

Aldorata Latin Dance Team - Rhodes

The start of the dance

I was fortunate to be invited to attend a Latin Dance Show staged by the excellent Aldorata Latin Dance Team on the Greek Island of Rhodes .. see

The Aldorata team have helped create a lively "Latin" scene on the island with their own dance school and its excellent dance teachers, a performance team that regularly entertain tourists at hotel shows and their very own Latin themed music and dance club.

What follows are the results of photographing their show. 

I have selected photos which hopefully will convey all of the items in the above list and thus the essence of latin dance.

Many thanks to Aldorata for kind permission to publish these photos on this site.

Latin Dance Digital Photography Gallery 

Note: click on any image to view page photos as slideshow

A music "break" naturally interpreted with a static "dip" hold

A more athletic "break" pose

Tango - Expression of the man's attempt to dominate and the woman's apparent reluctance far!

A lovely moment in Cha cha cha .. just a hint of motion still present in the "open break" gives rise the the expectation of the dynamic move just about to follow.

Distance and Separation.

Sometimes it is the space between couples in partnered dancing that is essential to the story.

Here a classic tale of a "love Triangle" was cleverly expressed via Tango

With one male and two female dancers, this is the moment when lady number two appears on the scene capturing the eye of the man - much to the "annoyance" of his existing partner .. there after the "battle" began..

Note it is lady number two entering the scene that is the focal point of the composition.

The photos above show a clear emotional connection expressed between the dance couples. Essential for the dance to appear authentic rather than contrived.

Rumba Guanguanco - the ultimate expression of flirtation in latin dance

Cha cha cha - a sexy and fun rhythm - expertly conveyed by the dance couple who are clearly having a good time. Note that the motion blur (everywhere except the face of the female dancer who is face on to camera) Adds rather than detracts from what the image is attempting to convey.


Latin Dance Digital Photography technique

Preparation is essential when planning to photograph a show. (Especially if you are a solo shooter with a single camera body)

The following are my key tips 

  • Arrive early and scope out the location. Make sure you have permission to photograph, establish where the dancers will perform and in which primary direction they will be facing. Select your primary vantage point and be aware of any distracting background elements (or any background elements that will enhance the shots - e.g. the coloured spot lights in the shots above). Make sure your vantage point does not impair visibility of other guests watching the show.
  • Set up all your necessary gear  - especially flash if you plan to use it. Take a few exposures before the performance begins to establish what exposure settings give you desired background exposure. You will want to shoot in Manual exposure to get consistency between shots but still be able to switch between a few different settings quickly when desired to create different effects (e.g. deep or shallow depth of field, motion blur (or its avoidance) etc
  • Don't be frightened to use high ISO levels .. everyone seems to run scared of digital noise.. but a little noise is much better than underexposed or shots blurred due to slower than ideal shutter speeds.
  • Make sure to time your shots in attempt to capture the essence of the dance (see the list of descriptive adjectives at the start of the article.
  • Take many shots - not all will be "keepers" .. but avoid "spray and pray" approach. Still take each photo with considered intent.
  • Finally if you want to enjoy the show purely as a performance - put your camera away (or see it for a second time. Shooting and "being present in the moment" are often difficult to combine.

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