Behind the Lens: Christopher Peddecord, Dance Photographer
From breathtaking covers, gorgeous print and web ad campaigns to new and exciting web page banners, dance photography is as vital to DDS as breathing fresh air. Some of our most memorable ads and web banners can be attributed to acclaimed dance photographer Christopher Peddecord whose photography speaks so clearly to dancers perhaps because he is one himself. He trained at the Houston Ballet Academy and worked as a full-time professional dancer with the Repertory Dance Theatre in Utah. Oh yeah, and he’s also a choreographer! Aside from the stunning images, it is worth a trip over to his own website just to read his full biography.
We recently caught up with Mr. Peddecord to ask him a few questions and reveal the man behind the photos:
DL: Your photographs are known for their absolute breathtaking illusion of movement and in your blog you have mentioned choreographing your model’s movements; do you generally have music playing during a session?
Peddecord: Generally, I don’t have music playing if I’m doing my own work. It can be a bit distracting at times and I’m a bit soft-spoken and prefer not to yell over the music. So much of a photoshoot is just talking with the dancers and trying to understand them, how they’re feeling in the moment, how their history in dance has shaped their technique and their muscles.
That said, one of my works, I call it the New Series, was set entirely with improvisational tasks. Music for this work was often symbiotic and informed the movement from the improvisation or lead to further iterations of those tasks and emotions would seemingly resonate from the music as well.
DL: What advice/ tips would you give to your average moms and dads trying to get a great pic of their dancer on stage?
Peddecord: It’s a hard thing to do, but you have to be able to set your camera to manual and learn how the three elements of exposure work together (those three elements being shutter speed, aperture, and ISO/film speed). The stage is extremely confusing for any camera to be set to any kind of auto-exposure mode and you have to be able to read a scene without relying on your camera to do so automatically.
After that, it’s anticipating the moment.
After that… it’s about that moment telling a story. I am, as are most photographers, still learning how to do that every time I pick up the camera.
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