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Advice Requested: Photographing Belly Dancers
Old 02-26-2003, 12:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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My wife and a friend of hers have just completed some fairly intense belly-dance training and are working on performance costumes. I have the use of a large vacant industrial loft and some props/lights and I would like to take some photographs of them. These are not for ads - neither of them is a professional nor is likely to be one. They're just for personal enjoyment.

The costumes, while not extraordinarily revealing (think Jeannie from "I Dream of Jeannie") are made of thin fabrics, mostly form-following but with flowing draped outer skirts and veils, and have a wide variety of colors and textures. The studio has white walls, gray floor, and is glass windows (from about three feet up to the 15 foot ceiling) on the north and east sides. It also has a room that was used for shooting videotapes which has a "bluescreen" wall and various types of draperies which can be used for backdrops. I will be using a Kodak DC290 digital camera with external flash and tripod, and I also have the use of a large softbox and a large umbrella. These have video (modeling) lights, not strobes. I also have various reflectors, whiteboard, and so on.

I would appreciate any comments or advice on how to approach this project, be it poses, light suggestions, anything at all. For instance, I was thinking of shooting in the midafternoon, when the sun will not be behind any of the windows but there should be lots of light for sillouhette shots. Thank you for any thoughts.

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Lots and lots of options, mate.
Old 02-26-2003, 05:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The bigger question, of course, is what do you want your photos to say and to look like? That should be your very first and foremost question, and everything else technical, technical and artistic, follows from there. Sounds like these are for fun and you want to make some fun and sexy images, so the first question is answered, but the second one is not. You could use window light exclusively, you could put the girls in the warehouse and photograph them with their surroundings (which are quite incongruous, which might be fun if visualized with a sense of humor, or could fail miserably, you can silhouette them against the white daylight of the windows (be careful of an overly stereotypical image if this bothers you, I would approach this probably shooting details as opposed to full-length silhouettes if I were asked to do this), you could hang some fabrics and shoot them in and out of that, light the hell out of it, use available light, what-have-you. There are so many options that I probably wouldn't know where to begin until I saw the space, and then my wheels would start spinning, but that's just the way I am.

Good luck and have fun.


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