For the past few years I’ve been wanting to design a website and book based on my best (or favorite) 100 photographs. It’s a daunting process. Where to begin? I began taking pictures in 1966, became a serious amateur in 1970, was totally absorbed by photography by 1974, and turned professional in 1977. I must have shot at least 40,000 rolls of film. Since switching to digital in the early part of this century I have filled over 4,000 dvds with images. What does this all mean?
I bought a professional film scanner several years ago and slowly over time I have been scanning my favorite images. I did begin a website featuring my art photography, www.paulbgoodeart.com, but somehow that project got pushed aside when I began working on this journal. The great thing about scanning old negatives is sometimes you find treasures you missed the first time images were chosen off the contact sheets. Underexposed negatives that were unprintable can now be captured with perfect detail in a digital scan.
The first photograph in the “PBG 100″ is one of those images. I never saw this picture until it was scanned and I was instantly mesmerized by the mood of the image. It is certainly one of my favorite backstage photographs. Image #8902-23 was taken in June, 1989, during the American Ballet Theatre’s season at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. I photographed for ABT during Baryshnikov’s tenure as artistic director and was given almost complete freedom to photograph the company’s rehearsals and performances. I spent many nights wandering backstage at the Met, searching for special images that can only come with time and patience.
Baryshnikov’s “Swan Lake” was my dream ballet. He chose long tutus for the dancers upsetting many purists who complained the tutus hid the dancers legs. I thought it was a wonderful choice. The flow of the tutus added to the drama of the ballet. They were all so swan-like with the tutus serving as the swans’ feathers.
This “lost” photograph is of three dancers waiting for the beginning of Act IV. I don’t have the exact date of this photograph but it’s apparently well into the Met season. I can feel the exhaustion of endless performances of Swan Lake in their faces though at the same time, their beauty is so obvious. Soon the fog will roll in to cover their bodies and the curtain will rise. Act IV will begin and the dancers will prove once again that they are more than human.