Dance photography is more than simply pointing the camera lens at a dancer and pressing a button. It is a skill and an art form, as well as an unspoken synergy established between the photographer and the dancer. Releasing the shutter at exactly the right moment captures a fleeting moment of light and elegant movement that creates something truly special. It shares moments in time with dancers where they communicate in a way that transcends language.
Dance photography skillfully captures movement. It creates freeze-frames of beautiful, entrancing movements and poses. It is essentially like pressing a pause button that allows the opportunity to truly appreciate the skill, focus, strength, and grace required for that single image and moment in time.
“While living in Istanbul, Turkey, Ashkan photographed his best friend, Selis, who was a ballroom dancer. This completely shifted the trajectory of his career.“
Photographers capturing any form of movement and self expression work hard to create a feeling of trust between themselves and their subject. Helping the dancers feel at ease and like they can trust the photographer’s judgment is important and can take a long time to learn how to naturally cultivate. This is the moment we have prepared for as Houston Photographers, and is ultimately one of the most special aspects of photoshoots that fulfills us the most.
Ashkan Roayaee is an Iranian photographer currently living in Houston, Texas. He has traveled extensively and lived in four countries. He is a seasoned Houston photographer, who has photographed some of Houston’s top dancers and athletes across various disciplines. After honing his photography skills for a number of years, he chose to try something new and exciting to broaden his range. While living in Istanbul, Turkey, he photographed his best friend, Selis, who was a ballroom dancer. This completely shifted the trajectory of his career.
“He has witnessed firsthand the powers of communication beyond only words.”
After that, he completely fell in love with dance and movement. Capturing it became his primary passion. He became enamored with the process of combining two different art forms to create something magical. Capturing the pure grace of a dancer nailing a Grand Jete or performing a Grand Adage with flawless, strong, and slow control in enchanting lighting is truly an impassioned pursuit.
Having lived in so many countries around the world, and now living in the USA as a Houston Photographer, Ashkan speaks multiple languages. However, he seldom gets the opportunity to speak his primary language. Because English is not his first language (or second, even!) he has witnessed firsthand the powers of communication beyond only words.
There is so much nuance in communicating with others that cannot be confined to the parameters of spoken language. This is why capturing movement completely captivated Ashkan. Each leap, bound, and pose is communicating something different. A dancer can convey emotions simply through their artform and they can tell an intricate story.
“The beauty and elegance derives from a lifetime dedicated to building strength and power.”
Dance is infused with elegance. When people watch ballet, for example, one of the most striking observations is just how effortlessly elegant the dancers appear to be. However, something many might not be aware of is just how much strength everything requires.
Each and every time the dancers are en pointe or landing any sort of move, they do it so quietly by engaging their muscles. The beauty and elegance derives from a lifetime dedicated to building strength and power. What appears to be effortless because of how perfectly executed and graceful it is actually requires an astonishing amount of control and power. The strength and grace go hand-in-hand. Without strength, the movement cannot be gentle and elegant.
Dancers must have an acute sense of body awareness if they want to effectively communicate with their movement. Dance is essentially a language of sorts. It is universally understood, and its effects break down language barriers. Dance connects, it moves us (both figuratively and literally), and it serves as a powerful storytelling tool.
Communicating with the body that words cannot fully describe, dance is profoundly magical in its ability to allow the deepest forms of self-expression. It is poetic in its essence. We are extremely inspired by this, and love to help dancers tell their stories through photography.
“Propelling their bodies in the air and maintaining perfect control over what each body part is doing in the process pushes the limits of humanity.”
As mentioned with ballet, strength is a vital component of executing moves in dance or anything similar. For example, let us look at the power of a gymnast, another discipline that we capture through movement. It is one of the first things people take note of when watching any kind of gymnastics performance. However, the strength appears tougher in comparison to a ballet. It’s much more a display of muscle and grit; of really pushing the limits of human strength. As a Houston photographer working with Houston gymnasts, Ashkan’s and his team have developed an entirely unique approach to working with gymnasts due to these fundamental differences. However, the strength remains the same, illuminated forever.
Propelling their bodies in the air and maintaining perfect control over what each body part is doing in the process pushes the limits of humanity. Again, gymnasts are communicating through their own unique sort of art form. They spend years of their lives dedicated to cultivating the strength and body awareness to communicate exactly what they are striving to convey.
Whether it is a ballet dancer, a gymnast, or anything in between and outside of these forms of individual skill and aesthetic, Ashkan delights in capturing people engaging in their passion. Through his expertise capturing dancers, he has developed a keen sense of how to best light the body to achieve the desired effect in photographs. This skill has taken years for Ashkan to refine and perfect, and it beautifully translates across all mediums.
Additionally, knowing how to utilize and optimize lighting is an essential piece of creating beautiful images. The way in which light falls on an object or person can completely shift the mood, as well as the brightness or dimness of the light. Think about it: you can probably recall the warmth of sunlight just before sunset peering through your window on a cold winter day. You may have experienced the quality of light through another Houston photographer as well, and how they wield it to create distinct moods and experiences through the camera.
The type of light helps to set the tone and mood of coziness. The same is true in photography, and Ashkan works diligently as a Houston photographer to ensure he is always using light in the best ways possible to create and enhance the desired mood. Furthermore, we strive to capture the brilliance of movement with the candid nature that mimicking natural light brings. We Intentionally use light to create drama and softness with our subjects, giving off the feel of a fine art painting.
“We have the honor of helping the subject to build the courage in themselves to be brave and to express themselves boldly, without inhibitions.”
Additionally, we love to capture the history of young dancers’ talent. Watching passion and dedication progress and evolve into success is deeply inspiring. It has transformed the nature of how we run our studio. We are so grateful for the opportunities we get to work with so many incredible dancers who inspire us and help us continue to grow in our own art form.
Beyond that, we love helping dancers communicate their individual personalities through their movement. Capturing someone in their element showcasing their own self-expression is moving. We have the honor of helping the subject to build the courage in themselves to be brave and to express themselves boldly, without inhibitions. Again, they can communicate what their words might not be able to, from the deepest essence of who they are through their movement.
Anyone familiar with dance photography, or another Houston photographer, know of what is called the “decisive moment.” The decisive moment is that moment that captures it all; it is when the shutter is clicked, the moment that determines the frame in time, that tiny 1/200th of a second, of the magic of movement.
“That tiny snapshot of a moment in time can be life-changing.”
Whether it is 1/200th or 1/400th of a second, that very specific fraction of a second that you choose to capture the dancer’s movements determines the story that will be told through the photograph. That fraction of a second is what communicates one mood versus another. What seems so small and perhaps trivial is the difference between a good photograph and a photograph that can give someone chills or bring tears to their eyes.
The strategic lighting, the moment we choose, and that fraction of a second can completely transform someone’s understanding of themselves. That fraction of a second can forever shift how they express themselves and help them to experience a completely new sense of empowerment and confidence in themselves and their art form. Ashkan has been privileged to witness this firsthand time and again through capturing movement.
We would love the opportunity to collaborate with you and help you tell your story through dance and movement. That tiny snapshot of a moment in time can be life-changing, and we would be truly honored to share it with you.
Want to capture your dancing?
We can capture your unique personality and style. We have Sessions for dance auditions as well as Creative Sessions, which offer a large range of diverse options.