I volunteered to photograph the Fall Dance at my son’s middle school, much like the Spring Dance earlier this year. One of the major lessons I learned in the spring was that I was shooting to capture the kids’ personalities, not to worry about whether the shot was perfectly composed with everyone inside the background. Over the last couple of months I had also decided that the background needed to be something more interesting than white seamless. Seamless is cool for formal portraits and even more artistic portraits. But it removes the context of the location. And a middle school dance is at least 50% context.
So I went looking for inexpensive background material that would be interesting, and might relate to the school or the dance. I found the rainbow tie-dyed tapestry above on Amazon and immediately fell in love with it because a) it’s bigger than my seamless, and b) the middle school uses the rainbow as a symbol of inclusion throughout the school.
So other than the background, the set-up was pretty much the same as last year: one flash on the background, one into an umbrella (or bare for large groups). And just like in the spring, the kids ate it up. This time I didn’t shy away from big groups.
After a the stream of portrait subjects died down, I put a flash on my camera and headed to the gym/dance floor. I put my camera on a paint pole, using the same basic technique I used at the Field of Honor to capture kids dancing.