How to photograph a dance Class

A fun photo shoot last night with Emma and her hiphop class at Yoshimi in Newquay for SurfGirl. I took two lights along and attempted to get some nice dramatic lighting. The front light was a Bowens with an umbrella. I placed another Bowens light behind the dancers some to get some rim lighting going and some nice lens flare.

I started off using a beauty dish on this light, then took it off and used it bare. I still wasn’t that happy with the resulting photos, but I noticed that the doors at the back of the room had frosted glass panels so I placed the light behind them. Perfect diffusion panels!

The flash duration time on these Bowens is about 1/700th, which isn’t quite fast enough for action, so I had to time the shots well to get some sharp ones. I moved around, found some different angles and worked with Canon Eos 10-22 and the 28-70mm on the Canon Eos 7D. I love shooting dance and would love to shoot ballet dancers leaping, although I would need to hire some lights with faster flash durations. Incidentally, unlike Speedlites, flash duration on the Bowens is constant, it doesn’t change when you decrease the output.

I processed the files in Lightroom. It took me quite a while to get the look I wanted. These photos have a retro filmic look, if you want to see a different, less stylised treatment, check my website. I hope these photos capture some of the fun these girls were having and the energy of the dance. If you’re interested joining a fun dance class in Newquay check out