Last Saturday I photographed a rehearsal of Yin Yue’s, “Something Hasn’t Been Said to Me” at the Red Bean studio. As with almost everyone I photograph these days, I met Yin on Facebook and didn’t meet her in person until the rehearsal.
I spent a lot of time “stalking” Yin of Facebook before I contacted her about doing a shoot. I have limited time for personal shoots and they have to turn out great so I need to know a person is right for my style of photography before I contact them. I could tell from Yin’s page that she had incredible energy and seemed to love being in front of the camera. A rehearsal was an easy way to find out if I was right.
I’ve spent much of the past 18 months trying to rediscover why I moved to New York City and became a photographer. Of all the career choices available to me I picked the most difficult road. My photography career has been great but interesting opportunities and the reality of earning a living took me off my original path.
The summer before I moved to NYC, I imagined myself living the life of a starving artist with a darkroom in the kitchen and washing my prints in the bathtub; shooting portraits of interesting people and having an art exhibition and books published every few years. That mostly was my life at first but as the cost of living skyrocketed in New York, I had to put my feet firmly on the ground and accept reality. Now I’m struggling to regain the personal and artistic soul I had in those early years.
I can’t explain why, but I had a feeling of exuberance on the way to Yin’s rehearsal. Something about Yin. Something about the light I imagined would be in the studio. I got there a few minutes early and relaxed on the building’s fire escape, admiring the rich blue of the afternoon Fall sky. When I walked into the hallway, there was Yin. She was smaller than I imagined (isn’t it always that way with dancers) but had a warmth I hadn’t sensed from her pictures on Facebook.
I quickly realized Yin wasn’t dancing in her piece and at first I was a little disappointed. But as her dancers walked into the studio, I knew this was going to be something special. It reminded me of my first dance shoot with Dianne McPherson; a talented choreographer rehearsing with a small group of exceptional women dancers.
This was one of the first dance shoots I felt connected to in a long time. I am connected when shooting Bill T. Jones or Buglisi Dance Theatre but it didn’t happen so quickly. There’s something about the energy of a small unestablished dance group that’s mostly lost in a working company. Just like me, after working professionally for a long time it’s easy to forget why you began in the first place.
Yin’s choreography matched my style of dance photography, something that began with the Dianne McPherson’s rehearsal almost 30 years ago. It was Yin and her dancers who brought out some of that feeling I’ve been struggling to regain during the past few years. Usually I work with a choreographer for a while before I wander the dance floor during a rehearsal. I couldn’t help myself on Saturday and I was all over the studio while they danced, sometimes right in the dancers’ face. It felt natural and comfortable. I truly hope this is the beginning of a long relationship. It will be good for both my personal and artistic soul.
Thanks Fanny for the wonderful email. You made my day and proved my intuition was correct.
Yin Yue rehearsal photographed on October 22, 2011.