In collaboration with de DansTempel I photographed one of their Ecstatic Dance nights. Ecstatic dance is a free-form, improvisational dance style that focuses on self-expression, body awareness, and mindfulness.
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As seen in previous projects I have made in the past, I embrace self-expression. That is why I loved this evening the most. Ecstatic Dance is a nonverbal form of communication that allows dancers to connect with their bodies, movement, and music in a deep and meaningful way. Participants are encouraged to move their bodies in any way that feels natural and comfortable, without concern for judgment or criticism.
Photographing in low light
It was my first time attending a dance event like this, but I knew what to expect. Still, there were two challenging elements hidden in photographing in an event like this. Firstly, the lighting was minimal. There were LED lights projecting various colors around the space, but they were barely bright enough to take well exposed photos. However, I was prepared for this by bringing two options. My first option was the external flash. This would be bright enough to take sharp and crisp images. But besides my personal dislike for this kind of lighting in photos, it would also blow out all the mood and atmosphere of the room. I love the colored lamps and absolutely needed to keep those in the photos. Besides, the bright flash would for sure distract the participants and perhaps make them feel exposed and uncomfortable. Which is the absolute last thing I want in a setting like this.
The best solution
So my second option was the best. A tripod. In order to take good looking photos with minimal lighting, I would need to slow down the shutter speed on my camera. By placing my camera on a steady tripod, I would be more flexible with my shutter speed and have a way higher change of sharp images. But I also had the intention to capture the dynamics of movements in the photos.
I felt in my element because of the music, the lighting, and the overall energy in the room. I took my time to observe and use different angles and perspectives to create the photos I envisioned. My goal was to visualize the expression of participation in an ecstatic dance event. And succeeding with this without disturbing the experience of the event itself.