As I mentioned in my last post, I recently opened myself up to challenges to build my portfolio. Part of that challenge is never saying no to the opportunity to photograph a friend. A friend of mine contacted me and informed me that she wanted photos to showcase what she had learned during here six and a half months of circus training, specifically on the Lyra. She is a student in the Beginner Lyra Course at Baltimore’s Mobtown Ballroom, which requires no previous experience. Although, judging by her moves I’d say that flexibility is a must. It was clear that this practice takes an enormous amount of strength, flexibility, and balance. To me, it also equates to what I could see as the dictionary definition of grace. The practice is centuries old, and although there appears to be conflicting reports on its origins, the use of hoops for aerial dance seems to date back to around the late 18th century. Steve Santos (2014) noted that in 1893 a performer named “Caedo” performed an act which featured a Lyric Hoop for an advertisement for the New York Clipper. It was also believed to be one of the first aerial apparatuses built by Edward Wyck, a famous equipment rigger who seems to be a household name for those who study the art (Santos, 2014).
My subject had a clear passion for her craft. We discussed her attire at a friends birthday party the weekend prior. I suggested a jewel tone leotard as I thought it would look lovely on her complexion and could easily be manipulated in Lightroom to best reflect the light. She went searching online as the only leotard she had was black and I was unsure if she had found one she liked. I was pleasantly surprised when I showed up and she was wearing a purple leotard and had taken the time to get her nails and toes done to be the same color. She had also taken time to carefully do her makeup in way that was both flattering and would easily pop on camera. This is a skill that as a 27 year old woman I have yet to master. She is lucky enough to live right in front of a rather large field that can be accessed from her yard. I asked her to send photos of various locations and we found a lovely area at the edge of the field which created a dense background of trees. My subject had a indoor rigging system which allowed her to practice at home. It consists of metal polls, a center bar to connect them, a clip to attach the ring, and the ring itself. This thing, especially the ring is not light. It took a bit of assembly but she was a pro and we were able to start the shoot pretty quickly after getting everything outside.
We started the shoot around 1840. My subject had planned ahead deciding to do her most difficult poses first to avoid exhaustion. I do not know there names and will not attempt to name them here as I’m sure each and every successful execution of these poses is a major milestones in the life of an aerialist, but lets just say they were impressive. In between poses I was able to get some lovely portraits and at rest photos. Well…as least as at rest as you can be while straddling a metal hoop. We captured a few shots of her stretching as well. As for my part, I utilized my new 18-300 mm Nikon lens, which gave me such incredible versatility I didn’t need to change my lens once. I brought a step stool to me a slightly higher vantage point, but ended up spending the majority of the shoot on my belly in the grass. I was attacked by nats but it was worth it to get the shots I wanted.
As far as the picture composition goes, it was difficult in this case to follow the rule of thirds. In order to get her full body and see the details of the moves I stood close, and she was largely centered. I could have stood back farther to get this vantage but largely I felt that this would take away from her moment to shine. Overall, I’m happy with my decision. I was also happy that I choose to shoot into the light, as the sun was low falling into sunset. It’s presence made her hair shine which added to the overall ethereal feeling I was hoping to capture. I hope you enjoy these photos. I certainly do 🙂 Goodbye for now!
Santos, S. (2014). Introduction to Rigging: Aerial Fabrics. ISBN:978-1-304-76403-4. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=msNCBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=%22Caedo%E2%80%9D+performing+a+lyra+hoop+routine&source=bl&ots=VlSCkB1drd&sig=V2wPWmvoNHvbwFN8c6-2gxDyjMU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiJhp7SmOjUAhWFOj4KHYbrDyYQ6AEIPzAF#v=onepage&q=Caedo&f=false