A dance shoot with Lauren Haywood and Arran Shaw


This was the second shoot with Lauren Haywood. This one was indoors at St Mark's church, Leeds instead of being in a park. This is where my church meets and one room has a sprung floor, so ideal for dancers. Lauren and Arran were really impressed with the space. They pointed out it was clean too unlike their regular practice space. This was the second time I used the room for a dance shoot. The first time was with my friend Rhiannon for some amazing photographs.

The shoot

I always arrive at a creative shoot with at least one or two ideas to start off with and then let the dancers come up with their own ideas. It is then my job to work out the best way to light and photograph them. In this case it was using one of the stain glass windows to frame them. It is a bit different from your usual background.

arran shaw

1. A flashgun was placed either side of him to create a rim of light around him. Arran got a lot of air on this jump.

lauren haywood

2. The same lighting as photo 1, but the flashlights were much lower down. The lighting brings out the shape of Lauren's legs.

This was the first time Arran and I had met. He had a number of photographs of people contorted in various ways. So, Lauren and he had a go and I photographed them in my own inevitable style and way.

arran shaw

3. After a few tries at a pose, Arran settled for this one. The eye contact is quite haunting. He is only lit with the spotlight.

arran shaw

4. Time for some break dancing. The spotlight were to the camera's right and above. The two flashguns added a bit of background interest, rim lighting around his head and feet preventing them from merging into the blackness.

arran shaw

5. This was one of those photographs where everything came together. The spotlight behind Arran's head and the triangle shape formed by this arm, leg and side.

arran shaw

9. Three lights were used for this pose. It was taken just after photo 7. The second flashgun added highlights on the inside of Arran's face. The visible flashgun also added a bit of rim light on the left of his legs enabling you to see the ">" formed by the right.

arran shaw

12. Spinning around on the palm of his hand. This was lit in the same way as photo 10.

arran shaw

13. The same lighting set up. I love the angle of this shot going across the long diagonal of the frame. Arran's face is a peach too. The way the light skims-off the sole of this trainer is sweet becoming the focal point of the photo.

Some of Lauren pulling a few moves. I like to have a movement in dance shots, but these are more about shapes that are created by her body.

lauren haywood

6. Lauren did a spot of contorting and pulled a few shapes. This was lit with the spotlight and one flashgun. The pool of light on the floor on the left stopped her knee from fading into the darkness. I could have moved the other flashgun to the left of the photograph to put a splash of light into her hair.

lauren haywood

7. The flashgun on the right was brought in to light her hair, otherwise the other two lights remained the same. The type of lighting I used highlights the muscle tones.

lauren haywood

8. This is a tighter shot so the effects of the two flashguns have little influence in the final image. There is a version on Facebook where they are a feature. You can just about make out a little pool of light from one of them above Lauren's right knee.

We followed this with a spot of break dancing and working together as a pair.

lauren haywood arran shaw

10. Working together they came up with this shot. It was lit with two flasguns one either side and pointing downwards. I shot this low down at the same eye level. The stripes of the tops and leggings add to the overall feel of the shot by adding distinctive lines.

lauren haywood arran shaw

11. Lauren's favourite shot. I think it looks almost like a mirror image except for the difference in the colour of their tops.

I started the shoot with a open mind and wanted to give them as much freedom to express their art as possible. I was pleased with the overall results. It was not what I expected at all. I hope they liked the results.

Post processing

Most of the post processing involved a bit of cropping, straightening, adjusting the exposure and ensuring the background was an even black. I try to do the majority of the hard work at the moment the photograph is taken rather than sat behind a computer.

Technical details

A full-frame camera with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens was used throughout. The two flashguns were triggered by the camera's built-in flash. The camera was in manual mode throughout with the shutter speed, aperture and ISO setting being 1/250 to 1/1250s, f/4 and 100% respectfully. The flashguns were also operating in manual mode. It means I have more control over the final photograph and nothing unexpected happens because of the camera makes a decision out of turn.

A third main light was used in a number of the shots. This was a Lupolux 800 spotlight very similar to one you find in a theatre, but this one is portable. The colour balance is the same as the flashguns so I did not have to adjust the white balance setting of the camera. Because the light is constant, I was able to shoot faster.

In a number of the shots, the flashguns were used to break up the black background and add rim lighting to one or either side of the dancer. They also created comet like plumes of line on the floor that frame the dancer. They were place at different heights for an asymmetric look.

In many of the shots the background is black. There is black curtain in the room just a window the length of the room overlooking the main meeting area. By using a fast shutter speed and low ISO setting, any ambient light is reduced to black by the camera.

Booking a photo shoot

If you would like to book a shoot contact me. There is a special package for dancers and their audition portfolios. Dancer page and gallery here.

lauren haywood

14. An outtake that Lauren tried to delete, but here it is. "Aye up, lad! I'm a break dancer." Most likely, I will be lynched by her for this. Please leave a comment below if you think it should be her Facebook profile picture.

Your thoughts


Please leave any thoughts, comments, questions or just say, "Hi!" (not literally) below. I really do appreciate feedback. E.g. What is your favourite photograph and why?

A few more photos on Facebook.

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