Tips for Better Dance and Studio Photography

RJ Muna is a creative photographer with more than 150 national awards under his belt. In this interview with Marc Silber, Muna talks about lighting and composition in his dance and studio photographs and his thought process when preparing for a shoot:

Before he even picks up a camera, he thinks of what he’s trying to say. One might think that based on the complexity and intricacy of his work, he would be concerned with having the right gear and lighting first and foremost, but he explains that those factors depend on the shot itself.

When it comes to achieving natural lighting, Muna says, “there is nothing more natural than outdoor.” In the studio, however, he leans more toward the fantastic and surreal side, things that you don’t normally see with your eyes.

dance photography with resistance bands

First, he starts with one main light, whether it’s overhead or coming from a whole other direction. From there, he fills in the blanks with key lights, edge lights and the like, until he achieves the effect he wants.

blur of dancers

His tips on composition are similar to his lighting tips in that they are both centered on the idea or message that you wish to convey in your photographs.

“The composition is really determined by the concept that we start with”.

dancers posing

Shooting dance from a technical standpoint has everything to do with stop motion, which can be accomplished by using strobes.

“You need to get the movement of the dancers especially when they’re leaping or doing quick, sharp movements.”

In dance shoots, the individual personalities of the dancers come into play as well. “There’s nothing more exciting than watching the human body in motion,” he says.

dancers frozen in mid-air

Muna’s advice to viewers who want to take better shots?

Take as many as you can, look at them hard, think about them, do your research, and just shoot a lot.

Leave a little room for the magic to show up.

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