Dance photography zooms in on both the physical and emotional beauty that human bodies possess. Whether it be the intricate poses or movements, the zealous energy exuded or the passion for their craft, dancers are the epitome of beauty in humanity. As a former national athlete with a passion for sporting, action and dance images, Shaun shares his insights on the journey of creating harmony between dance and photography.
Shaun’s philosophy is “keep it simple.”
To that end, he finds communicating with the dancers to be of extreme importance. “Dance is their art; photography is mine.” Rather than directing them, he chooses to respect the creative integrity of the dancers, where what is created is the result of the intersection between the two art forms. The unfiltered, natural expressions that the art form can portray is what gives dance photography it’s shine. Therefore, focusing on capturing the moment is what will let the dancers take the centre stage.
To Shaun, the core of dance photography is “the emotions that are conveyed as part of the image.” The way emotions are expressed through the movements shares the most about the soul of the performer, with that being the heart of the art form. To best capture this, Shaun shares that the focus can be on the eyes of the dancer; “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” While photography is limited to two dimensions, the eyes will reveal a deeper layer.
During a dance shoot, Shaun shared that he always shoots tethered, mounting his camera on a camera stand and using his Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 on his laptop. This allows him to make adjustments or re-take the image on the fly. “Getting exposure and white balance as accurately as possible during the shoot saves time and effort”, hence he always tries to get the image right in the camera by making use of a colour chart and light meter. He then adds in the final light touches for post processing, with cropping and minor changes in brightness and contrast.
When asked what his favourite work in dance photography was, Shaun humbly shared that he has none because all his works are “intrinsically flawed.” Insisting that “every photo tells a unique story”, he feels that perfectly surmising the essence of those stories is something he has not achieved. With a drive to continue experimenting, Shaun still looks to hone his skills with challenges, such as testing out overhead lights to create cleaner lines between the two dancers, capturing the balance, strength and connections between individuals as an entity.
Asked about his other expertise in sports photography and specifically gymnastics, Shaun asserts that once you get into the flow of dance photography, moving onto the genre of sports photography can be relatively easier. With both focusing on humans in motion as the subject, similar concepts in composition, emotion and subject isolation are highly applicable in either genre.
Fundamentally, the way to improve is to practice, but it’s the drive that keeps you shooting away. For Shaun, his drive stems from the desire to spread awareness of both dance and photography as art forms in Singapore through his works.
A former national athlete, Shaun found his passion in sporting and action images, capturing images at several national and regional games including the Youth Olympics, The Asian Games and ASEAN Para Games. Shaun is also pushing the boundaries of arts and culture in Singapore with his stunning work, creating images for many pre-professional dancers from schools around the world. With communication as his focus, he always brings out the extraordinary factors of the subjects.