She's evolved into a dance mom and dance photographer, but those roles have given her new perspective to approach dance photography differently by capturing dancers just as they are -- as they dance.
"I would've loved real images like this of myself when I was a dancer, and now it feels so important for me to provide these keepsakes and images for my daughters," she said. I always felt that the studio photographs that you get every year never represented my daughters in the way I saw them, and never showed any expression other than the forced ones. It didn't feel right to me."
Tonya is learning that she was not alone in wanting photography that truly captures a dancer's true love of dance.
"I'm just thrilled that dancers are seeing what I want to provide for them, and are just as excited as I am about the dance sessions I do," she said.
Tonya's dance background allows her to connect with the dancers and make them feel comfortable during a photo session.
"This allows them to just let go during their sessions and trust that I am going to capture them beautifully and in the way I hope they see themselves and know how beautiful they are," she said."
Above all, Tonya wants their 'true selves' to shine through in their photos.
"I just want to be able to gift these dancers with images that show them how beautiful they are and how incredibly talented they are," Tonya said. "I just want these sessions to build them up and bring them even more self confidence!"
more about heather's photography:
"I don't find my dance work traditional. I don't shoot in a photography studio, or on the street, generally. I take my camera to a theatre to utilize the stage lights and to create an amazing contrast. On the other hand, I also like shoot in natural light industrial spaces. It allows me to create something visually clean and simple."
"It's been a long and bittersweet journey, which has taken me from ballet to modern to ballroom, from baby classes to university, and from health to injury and back again," Amy said. "Recently, I've come back to ballet as a dancer after a long hiatus. It's still the hardest, yet easiest thing I've ever done."
Q: What makes your dance photography unique?
A: My superpower as a lifelong ballerina/photographer is directing and capturing dancers on camera. I speak dance, and with me, your TECHNIQUE comes first. My job is to create photos of you at your best ability--and if you tend to sickle, be off your box, or just feel tense during a shoot, I'll coach and guide you until those little issues are resolved.
My approach, always, is: Dancer First. Not the location, not the outfit, and especially not my ego. The setting and styling should serve the dancer, and I work carefully to balance all those elements within a composition. Because the setting around you may be impressive, but if you don't look good in your technique, then what good does that do? My job is to help YOU get the job. Having more than 25 years experience in photography and dance (ballet, contemporary, and ballroom) makes me uniquely qualified to understand and capture the emotional nuances and technical virtuosity of each dancer.
Q: What do you love about dance photography?
A: When I'm photographing a dancer, I feel the rosin-y grind of my pointe shoes against the floor. I feel the triumph of a near-perfect fouette. I'm right there with her, in the spotlight. And although I'm no longer an elite-level athlete, I've found another way to be in the world of movement, and help others with their own dreams. What lights me up now is helping movers achieve their goals, whether it's on stage or in the studio. Serious dancers deserve a photographer who truly understands what's at stake, what their goals are, and how to help them get there. If I can be the one to do that, I'll consider my job done.
Robin Rogers discovered a new passion in dance photography. First and foremost, she loves the process of creating. She's able to insert her own life experiences into that process through creative group sessions. She also enjoys the camaraderie that grows from working with groups of dancers.
"Instead of the constant of competition, for them to sit back, create and make memories with new friends — That's what it's all about!" Robin said.
'A Dance For Jaime'
When violence struck a high school in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, the dance community rallied together to honor the life of Jaime Guttenburg, a dancer who tragically lost her life that day. Jaime's favorite color was orange. Studios and dancers across the country wore orange ribbons in her memory and honor. Robin Rogers found her own way to grieve, and to help others grieve the loss of Jaime.
"Sometimes we want to help when tragedies happen, but sometimes we feel helpless," Robin said. "Sharing your art, and creating art is such an outlet"
"Jaime was a beautiful dance soul taken far too soon," Robin said. "Crimes of hate have robbed the rest of us of watching her beauty and grace."
Robin brought dancers from across Texas together, to create 'A Dance For Jaime.' There, new friendships were formed, and they openly talked about how it had personally impacted each of them.
In addition to learning choreography from Chelsie Hightower, Mark Kanemura, Lauren Adams, Mark Germar, Jasmine Rafael, Matt Aylward, Bree Hafen, Nicole Detling, Jen Pendleton and Megan Cranney, attendees also spent time with their team of counselors who helped with planning and were a shoulder to lean on.
Robin felt like a part of a family at the camp, and witnessed that among the group.
"Chelsie's camp is such a wonderful blessing in the dance community," Robin said. " It is a young camp — only in its second year — but I can't wait to watch it grow and flourish in the many years to come!"
results, refining the movement and the light... it's a wonderful creative process. To catch that perfect Cabriole, Firebird, Italian Pas de Chat, or Tap Dancer doing an Over the Top is what I live for in the studio - or on location. It's my job, my privilege, and my joy to help dancers look their most amazing (and have fun while doing so!!)
Q: What tips would you offer to dancers when working with a dance photographer?
A: Be you.Take time to prepare for the session, collect photos of poses you'd like to try and bring them with you. Think about your most amazing moves and write them down! Come ready to work!! Stretch... stretch... stretch! Bring an assortment of dance outfits that show you at your best! Cameras today are very high resolution!! Take the time to pay attention to the details - it will pay off in the photography!! This is YOUR SESSION... make sure you come with ideas - a great photographer will tailor his style to what you need or want for the session - and be there for you.
Q: What do you love about being a dance photographer?
A: To be able to capture the talents that these dancers portray, but the most important is to boost the confidence of these young artists. That is priceless.
Most of the dogs Kelly Pratt Kreidich and Ian Kreidich work with have not been on a photo set before.“It's crazy how smart dogs can be,” says Kelly. Snip, a border collie, figured out within about 3 camera fires the connection between the dancer moving and the strobe lights firing. He knew once she kicked her leg up, the lights were going to fire, so he would turn his head toward the light to see it happen.
Many dog owners are willing to volunteer their time (and their dogs' time) for the project. Some breeds are naturally a bit more high-energy than others, but the dogs' cooperation really comes down to training and individual personality.
The first duo they worked with was Ericka and Baxter, an English Bulldog. They captured clean and elegant pictures that were sweet, light-hearted, and funny. "Ballet is often seen as stuffy or unapproachable, and we feel like this project helps people see the lighter side of dancers," Kelly explains. "It’s all about just making people smile. If we’re doing that, that is all that matters."
Aside from the Dancers and Dogs project, they are dance photographers, mainly working with the Saint Louis Ballet. They specialize in both marketing photography and performance photography (www.prattkreidich.com; see photo page 55). Being married to their business partner adds another dynamic to what they do - “We each have our own strengths and weaknesses. I think we balance each other out. I am the more feeling and concept-based person, while Ian is the more technical person,” says Kelly.
Their goal is always to use those two aspects together to create images that are both technically beautiful and speak to you. “We both work from home and obviously see a lot of each other, so we are always trying to balance work and non-work life.” They have a dog named Dillon, a 7 year old Border Collie/Lab mix, who was in the project’s 2018 calendar.
In the near future, they are bringing Dancers & Dogs to NYC, April 21st and 22nd to work with some familiar faces!
His background in fashion, fine art, and portrait photography has helped him. With his current work for “The Dance Project” he is featuring the movement, energy, strength, and stillness of the dancer.
“My work presents each dancer’s journey as a personal experience where the commitment is shown through the perfection of each movement, the mastering of technique, and the creation of a physique capable of handling the demands of both.”
Noel continues, “At times the most simple of movements can prove to be the most beautiful. The attention to posture and the tilt of the head can say more about the nature of dance than a perfect arabesque.”
Q: What tips would you offer to dancers when working with a dance photographer?
A: Ask to see the shots on the camera and don't be afraid to ask to do it again. And again. And again. Your photographer should be as picky as you are and understand that you're criticizing your own technique, not theirs. Ask them to keep snapping until you know your instructors would be proud of the results.
Q: What is unique about your dance photography?
A: I work with the dancers to choose only the perfect shots, out of the hundreds we take together. Every photo is chosen for the precision of form, and only shows your highest jumps and most perfect turnout. I want to show both your personality and the work you've put into perfecting your craft.