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Thread: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

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    First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Well I am happy to report that I have just shot my first job as a professional photographer. Ballet Etudes Company of South Florida hired me as the official photog for their presentation of "The Nutcracker". I rented a Nikkor 200mm f/2 AF-S VR ED lens for the job (thank you, David Farkas) and here are some highlights from the 3500 photos I shot:









    When I get them all culled and prepped, I will post a link to my pro gallery. I have a lot of work ahead of me.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Carlos

    What a great 1st assignment! Your work looks excellent and the 200VR was a good choice. I can still remember sneaking my M and the Noctilux in to shoot the Nutcracker . Nothing like a Nikon and the 200VR.

    Now you have the real challenge ......editing 3500 down to what ...maybe 100? Good luck with your assignment. Looking forward to see the results.

    Roger

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Thanks Roger. I've got quite a few anxious parents waiting to see the results of my efforts. BTW, in case you're wondering, I was seated in the last row in the Handicapped area, center stage.

    Taken with my iPhone


    The toughest part of the actual shoot itself was that I didn't get to see the dress rehearsal and shot the first night cold turkey. And I never used this lens before.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Congratulations and welcome to "Club Pro"

    That 200/2 VR is something isn't it? Perfect choice for that assignment.

    I'll be using mine on New Year's Eve for a paying job.

    Can't wait to see more of your shots.

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Good work Carlos. Next time try a monopod which will give you more speed to move than the tripod. I shot many stage images in my past , worked for the theatre, opera and symphony. Ektachrome Tungsten 160 pushed to 320. You know that was awhile back
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Thanks for the tip Guy. I was using a Gitzo G1278M ballhead on my tripod which I controlled with my left hand while shooting with my right. I was able to tilt/pan easily and remain seated for the 2+ hr show.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Tripods are great but during dress rehearsals sometimes you want to move and the monopod is a little easier also you can tilt faster than being on a flat plane. This is a lot like shooting runway and going up and down is really fast this way. Something to try and see how it flows for you. Especially with the big gun lenses that are heavy and your in tight like 3/4 length stuff
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Very nice, Carlos. Stage work is always an interesting challenge, and you seem to manage fine

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Good going, Carlos!

    All the best!

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Very nice Carlos. I love The Nutcracker. My daughter danced in it for several years.
    I saw your print that you sent to Mark Howell. Love it as does he. thanks for joining in on our little swap.

    -Durr Wise

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Well, I'd like to give credit where credit is due. If it wasn't for you guys and all of the help you provide, I wouldn't have been confident enough to do this job.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Congrats, Carlos! That last frame is stunning, very dynamic. (Not the one from your iPhone LOL)

    Looks like tricky lighting WRT color - did you try to do anything about that? Probably difficult if the lighting changed color over time.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    congratulations Carlos
    I really like the last two especially

    a great start!

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    SPLENDID.... the last shot i adore
    Congrats Carlos-
    Best-H

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    Congrats, Carlos! That last frame is stunning, very dynamic. (Not the one from your iPhone LOL)

    Looks like tricky lighting WRT color - did you try to do anything about that? Probably difficult if the lighting changed color over time.
    Believe it or not Lars, that Arabian Dance shot was color corrected in Aperture. The Arabian Prince conveniently wore white, but the stage manager has obviously been rolling and smoking his colored gels. The fool changed colors on me practically every scene! Very photog unfriendly if you ask me. I am uploading the Day One shots as we speak. I managed to cull them down from 1746 to 225. Not all are as good as the ones I posted here, but I have parents looking to me provide them with shots of their children in the show. Tomorrow I tackle Day Two.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Well the First Show Gallery is up. You are welcome to see it here. On the first night I used my 18-200 a bit in the 2nd Act. My Second Show Gallery (when I am finished) will have almost all of the shots from the 200/2 VR.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Second Gallery is up but Zenfolio is down for maintenance at the moment.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Here are some more highlights from the Second Show







    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    On a side note, my kids attend an arts and music school here in Miami and when the Director saw my photos she asked me to shoot the rest of the school events. I also teach a Photo Workshop there and she told me that next school year we are going to formalize that to a Conservatory class. Hopefully this will get me at least a break on tuition.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    These are even better. The first two are just perfect.

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Thanks Jorgen!
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Nice job, Carlos. Ballet/theater is not an easy first assignment.
    Having seen them, now, I'll have the music running through my head for the rest of the day. It's a fixation, yes, but a pleasant one!
    Roger
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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Carlos, I agree with Jorgen that the second set are even better. Very nice work and congratulations.

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Carlos you have a good eye and timing,its hard to see how you could have done things any better,first job or not,well done......Neil

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Really nice work Carlos, I'm sure the parents and participants will be pleased. It seems the D300 performed great with regards to AF and DR in the contrasty light.

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Well I did shoot in RAW and the 200 f/2 VR is an amazing lens! I got the hang of using the continuous focus with the telltales showing up in the viewfinder allowing me to see what the D300 was tracking. That helped alot.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Carlos,

    The shots came out even better than you let on when we spoke on the phone. Great job! Stage dance isn't easy to shoot and you've really nailed it.

    Glad we could help out on the 200 VR.

    David
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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Thanks David. Your recommendation of that lens was spot on. That will be my "go to" lens for assignments at the MDCA. Hows the performance with a 1.4-1.7x teleconverter (for when I pick up a D700)?
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Carlos, I just looked at the whole first day gallery. You really did a fantastic job and I'm sure that the parents and teachers are very happy.

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Fantastic work Carlos!

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Quote Originally Posted by Cindy Flood View Post
    Carlos, I just looked at the whole first day gallery. You really did a fantastic job and I'm sure that the parents and teachers are very happy.
    As the pundit once said, "you can't please all of the people all of the time". I got a call from a mom who was upset that I only had one shot of her daughter's solo performance the first night.

    I was told by the troop director that I WAS NOT to photograph the solo/duet performances of the two dancers from the New York City Ballet. When I asked who they were and what they looked like I was told that I would be able to tell. The program wasn't much help either. So when this young woman comes out and starts dancing a solo, I thought she was one of the ones I wasn't supposed to photograph and took the opportunity to swap CF cards. Cracking out my flashlight, I chanced a look at the program and saw the names of the NYC Ballet members and realized that this young woman wasn't one of them. I managed to snap off a couple of shots (one good, one bad) and figured I'd get her in the second show. The next day I shot the sequence that was missing, but they swapped the dancers

    I will be requesting from the Director that I be allowed to attend the dress rehearsals in the future.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Carlos,
    I hope that you are not feeling bad. I guess next time I would shoot everyone and then figure out who I wasn't supposed to shoot and lose those shots. I'm sure you made a lot more Moms happy than the one who is not.

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Thanks Cindy, I feel sorry for the Mom but I'm guessing that she is in the minority. I am going to make sure before the next show in the Spring that we get all that nonsense sorted out. They really can't complain considering how little I charged them and that I did the first show "cold turkey" and with a lens I had never handled before in my life.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Well, I just met with the director of the ballet company today and she has asked me to become their official photographer! I have already been commissioned to shoot photos for their upcoming production of Don Quixote including studio sessions of the stars for promotional purposes.
    Last edited by etrigan63; 17th January 2009 at 00:01.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Congratulations Carlos

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Way to go, Carlos!

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Congrats Carlos! Will you keep working with the 200f2 when possible?
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Quote Originally Posted by etrigan63 View Post
    As the pundit once said, "you can't please all of the people all of the time". I got a call from a mom who was upset that I only had one shot of her daughter's solo performance the first night.
    Or as another pundit said, "No good deed goes unpunished."

    As an official photographer for what's apparently a student or youth company, you're going to be discovering something that dance teachers and choreographers already know: The worst mental health hazard in the field is the parents!

    One thing you're going to want to do for your own protection is to make sure that the participation agreement that the organizers usually make students and parents sign (it generally includes a liability waiver and such) also includes a statement that they agree that the company AND YOU, the photographer, are free to photograph the dancer in connection with the company's activities and to use those photographs for any purpose.

    I photograph several local dance groups so that they'll have photos for press, promotional, and archival purposes [examples here, here and here] and I find that the dancers themselves, especially adult dancers, are very appreciative of having their work documented -- although they're ruthlessly self-critical about how they look, and many times what I thought was a terrific photo would be shot down by an "Omigawd, look at my knee!" or similar remark about a tiny technical flaw that a civilian would never notice.

    Parents, though, are a completely different animal. I figure that the participants are entitled to see the photos I shoot, so I generally put them on a private website and distribute the URL to the cast. I tell the dancers they're welcome to download the photos for free and share them, print them, etc. The website also links to a print service where they can order prints at what I consider extremely reasonable prices (e.g. $1 for a 4x6.)

    Most people are happy about this -- but lately I've been running into situations in which one or two parents have decided that the very fact of my taking the pictures, putting them on a website, and offering prints for sale constitutes "taking advantage of their children" and telling directors that they will not allow their children to be photographed for the production. (Naturally, if their kids are in a group dance, this knocks out everybody in that dance from being photographed!)

    I've also been getting objections that showing their kids' pictures on the Internet (even at a non-publicized URL) is going to attract throngs of child molesters. This doesn't seem sensible when the photos are of a public performance which child molesters could easily attend in person! But there's no reasoning with them.

    It's all part of the mindset that seems to have sprung up over the past few years that anybody who's seriously interested in photography is probably an exploitive paparrazo at best, and some kind of creepy pervert at worst.

    It's just a lot easier to work with adult companies made up of professional dancers... but of course there are fewer opportunities to do that.

    So, I wish you good luck! Just keep the risks in mind, and try to get the company to provide you with as much "insulation" as possible.

  39. #39
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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Well deserved,a pat on the back as well to the company for giving you the opportunity.

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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Thanks all. I have to say that if it wasn't for you guys and for Jack & Guy having this place, I would not have been brave enough to take the job.

    Ranger 9: the Company is a school also and has all ages. Part of the contract they (the parents) signed with the school/company says that they are going to be photographed. If they don't want their child photographed they simply don't participate in the productions. 99.9% of the parents are ecstatic that their kids' performances will be photographed professionally. Most, if not all, of the prima positions are held by young adults, so no issues there. Guest professional dancers can get sticky as they only want to be photographed with the troop.

    However, I will draw up a contract and incorporate your suggestions into it.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

  41. #41
    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Congratulations Carlos. Well deserved!

  42. #42
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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Thanks Jorgen. I appreciate your support.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

  43. #43
    Ranger 9
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    Re: First Pro Assignment - The Nutcracker

    Yes, congratulations. I'm a bit envious -- makes me remember how exciting it was when I was starting out. Enjoy the ride!

    More unsolicited advice for you:

    -- Go to all the rehearsals you can, even early non-costumed rehearsals. Barbara Morgan, who documented Martha Graham's glory years, said watching how the work changed from rehearsal to rehearsal helped her discover its essence. (Besides, you can get good pictures there; for example, I'm still really happy with these I shot last week.)

    -- Watch classes and shoot pictures of them whenever you can. It's a good way to get a feel for how dancers move. Since classes are somewhat predictable and repeatable, you get plenty of second chances, which helps you be ready when that once-in-a-lifetime shot happens onstage.

    -- If you've never done it before, take an adult ballet class. You'll learn useful vocabulary and develop muscle memory that will help you feel the right timing for a shot.

    Did I remember to say have fun? Oh, yeah, have fun!

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