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The National Ballet of Canada opened up it's doors for a rehersal...

Published December 20th, 2012

...for some people selected through Sara Collaton and 500px. It was quite an experience... and frightening. I normally don't take pictures of people normally. What was I thinking asking to be apart of this??

Oh my god - I have to shoot something I never shoot - AND show it to people after... My pictures are going to be awful. How do I even shoot people??? I shoot landscapes mostly and parts of the city. How do I capture professionals at work? How do I make engaging photos with them?? Are they going to hate everything I show??? Oh my... I HAVE to show these pictures??

With those thoughts nagging at me, I got down to the work and absolutely loved it. I shook hands with our contacts when we got there and decided I was going to own this. This wasn't hard... not at all... I was going to capture their movements. These are talented professional dancers and I wanted to show off what they could do. This wasn't even the main event - this was practice. I got down to work. The other photographers and I talked over settings and what to do. We wanted to own this.

We were led into their room and were told of our usual restrictions. With an abundance of lenses, I took over 500 photos to make sure I could capture their grace and their hard work. You could feel the sweat, the tears, the pain, the pleasure and the laughter they all shared. It was palpable. At all moments and at all angles. This team of people were there to show off their stuff and wow did they ever.

I wanted to show off their grace most of all and had an idea of what I was looking for during this challenge. Ultimately - I made hundreds of mistakes. They kept moving so much! How do you capture them if they're moving so quickly?? I slowed down my shutter speed so I could get some movement and some clarity for every shot. This was HARD. Sometimes it was important to show a specific clear and sharp moment. At other times, I didn't think a sharp image mattered so much as conveying what they were doing in a single image. The judges see every detail; I'd imagine that the audience would generally just see movement. That's what I wanted to convey here.

With these 10 images, I attempt to show you what they seemingly all go through. I felt they were all alone and together at the same time. Their experiences with dance are rarely different than other dancers - their commonality strengthens their community and their professionalism.

I couldn't help but clap after their performances - and I was occasionally the only one to do so! I realized some dancers are more in the spotlight than others; but ultimately they're all there together for the ultimate goal. Everyone here is important and they want to share their story through dance. I wish them well in everything they do and I'm extremely happy I was there, for a brief moment, to capture what they go through to share their story.


Tired Feet


Tip Toe




Just Right


Still For But a Moment




Watch the Feet




Judges Perfecting


They Play to the Music

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Michel K.  almost 4 years ago
Impressive story. Nice to read what made up your mind before the shoot and of course, bravo for the dancers work. You kept something of it in your shots.
Chris Bagley  almost 4 years ago
Great stuff Vince! I love all the motion and emotion that you captured.
John Leonardelli  almost 4 years ago
i like the afraid/alone best. she skittered across the floor and you nailed the moment portraying the movement and speed of the dance. I also liked untilted as it really adds a sense of diagonal to the fact the directors wanted "more diagonal"
Joanne  almost 4 years ago
stunning shots....and in such hard lighting conditions. Well done.
Awesome Account
Vincent McMillen  almost 4 years ago
thanks Joanne!