Building Brand Awareness Through Imagery
This weekend I had the honour of shooting a dance show at Manchester’s Dancehouse Theatre. This is not my normal brief (obviously), but oh my goodness, it completely reminded me why I absolutely adore photography! I took a risk, and shot mainly with my 50mm f/1.4 prime. Madness! More about the technical details below. This shoot is a great example of building brand awareness through imagery. The company – The Alyson Livesey Academy of Dance and Drama, teaches children from aged 3 upwards. Even though the academy bears her name, I doubt that Alyson would consider herself a personal brand. The images however, are a testament to all her and her team’s hard work and that of the dancers themselves. They showcase the very best of the dancers and demonstrate the progress that the academy’s students can make. When discussing the shoot with Alyson, I was way out of my normal workflow. As a personal brand photographer, I would normally take my time, do a lot of research and brand development work, storyboard, brainstorm blah blah. Instead I kind of blurted out ‘Should I take some pictures?!’ one day when I was dropping Thing 1 off for her Tinies dance class. Smooth, Nic.
But I’m Not A Brand!
Anyway, I digress. Professional photography is essential for somewhere like ALADD. There are such technical challenges to overcome and so many things to think about when coordinating a huge show anyway, the photography is almost an afterthought. But when Alyson and I talked, she had a clear idea of what worked for her in the past, and what hadn’t. iPhone pictures, selfies, posed images in costumes, pictures taken by parents – do they speak to potential dancers and their parents about what young people can achieve if they invest in long term dance education? Do they truly showcase the amazing performances that these dancers can achieve? Do they work with the lighting to produce visually stunning results which reflect the beauty of the dances themselves? Probably not.
At this point I need to talk about these dancers. The kids are not only adorable but some are such talented and disciplined young people. They had worked (almost!) as hard as their teachers on the dances and it showed in their performances, but more than that, throughout the entire 4 days of rehearsals, tech rehearsals and performances, they were polite, in good spirits, well-mannered and truly a credit to both the academy and their parents. Awwww!
So, yeah I shot mainly with my 50mm f/1.4 on my Canon 5d Mark 3 (which I love by the way!). I also had my 24-70mm f/2.8 with me, and shot a little bit with that, but I preferred the 50mm. Yes, it meant that I was running up and down around the theatre like a mad woman. Yes, it meant that I did miss some moments backing up to get everything in frame, and by the time it was lined up, the music had moved on. But, the 1.4 aperture is incredible. We are dealing with ridiculous lighting at any kind of stage performance. Not low-lighting, not bad lighting, but actual moving-all-the-time, everyone’s-skin-looks-a-weird-shade-of-green/pink lighting. That makes the 1.4 stand out from the 2.8 in an incredible way and absolutely invaluable. I also shot using my crop-frame 600D. I had this on a tripod using my intervalometer, and shot one frame every 3 seconds during some of the numbers to get a time-lapse film. That worked well, obviously with far less control over lights, but I was pleased with the results. Some of my favourite shots came from using a 1 second exposure on the 600D, which created some gorgeous arty effects. I’ll be sharing these over on my FB Page and possibly going through the whole process over in the Group. Join me there to find out more!!