Dance Photography: Interview with Dayron Vera, Dancer and Photographer
At AGORA we are always on the look-out for promising photographers so we can share their story, their professional tips and artistry. If you enjoy the following interview you won’t want to miss our article on fine art fashion photography with Caitlin Bellah, this article on #Sound Contest winner Michael Aboya or this article on photo deconstructivism with Ramón Guillamón.
AGORA Images met Dayron Vera at the Corella Dance Academy in Barcelona, a high-performance dance school for students of Classical Ballet. Dayron has combined his career as a ballet solo dancer and director of this great Academy, with his undeniable skills as a photographer, for which he has been selected as a Profoto Ambassador. His moving dance photography is the subject of this interview.
When and how did you first become interested in photography, and moreover, in dance photography?
I started by taking photos on stage, whilst I was resting and my colleagues were dancing. I didn’t really have any predetermined interest, I just had a camera at hand and enjoyed using it.
Where do you find your source of inspiration? Do you share other skills or a passion for any of the other arts or creative activities? (Painting / Music / Dance / Design / Cooking … and would you recommend them as a discipline?).
Before I worked with dance photography, I was a professional dancer, and actually danced as the principal dancer in companies such as the Cuban National Ballet alongside Ángel Corella and many others. My inspiration usually appears from nowhere, it is like a restlessness which needs to be satiated, and that is how my search begins. It might be a painting, a film, or even the ballet that I used to dance.
How did you learn about photography?
I am completely self-taught, and it wasn’t something I planned. I needed to know how to use the camera, and so I became interested in looking for online courses, and even asking people close to me, who knew how to use a camera and had some knowledge of photography.
My inspiration usually appears from nowhere, it is like a restlessness which needs to be satiated, and that is how my search begins.
What were your first professional influences? And the current ones in dance photography and other types of photography?
My earliest influences remain the same today. I don’t think I actually dabbled with many styles until I decided which I wanted to learn more about, and that was portraits. I have framed photographs at home such as Irving Penn, Avedon, Robert Frank, who even though not a purely portrait photographer, had a manner of focussing on documentary photography that led me to a much better understanding of instant portraits. Annie Leibovitz, and particularly her work with analog cameras, as well as many other contemporary photographers who I follow on social networks.
How would you describe your evolution in technique, subject matter and style?
My evolution has always been closely linked to working with dancers, since together with my wife Carmen Corella, we run a high-performance ballet school in Barcelona. This has meant that dancers have always been represented in my images, but not from a physical point of view (ballet technique), but from a personal one.
What subject matter do you prefer to work with?
As I said before, in my opinion, portrait work is so broad that it can be approached from many different points of view; more artistically, or the simplicity of one moment, with someone who allows you to take the shot.
My evolution as a photographer, has always been closely linked to working with dancers…
As a photographer, what is your relationship to light? Do you prefer using a studio or natural light?
Different to many, I began by using a flash, and without losing it completely in my photos, I began to start balancing it with the natural light available when I am working. But most definitely, what I most love is to work with a flash.
What kind of equipment do you use in your work? What is your favourite (Analog, Digital, Mobile)?
We all love camera equipment, but it often distracts us from what is really needed for an image, which is a camera, however simple it might be, and a source of light, whether natural or artificial.
I began with a Canon 1100D, which was replaced by a 1200D, and from there went on to a Canon 5D MKIII.
I first bought a hot shoe flash, and then went on to use a Profoto B1.
I have grown up in the digital age, but I must admit that I have a Canon AE1 analog camera, and a few times I have borrowed a Hasselblad 503, and been amazed by the results when developing the shots.
How do you prepare your shoots?
Sessions often unfold without much preparation, at least when it is personal work. I usually meet someone in my studio, or somewhere I like and feel might work, and I tell them to bring some different clothes from home. I prefer to just let it flow. More commercial work of course has to involve greater preparation beforehand, since when there is a client, everything has to be more specified.
We believe that your work could be a source of inspiration for many photographers. Would you share a few TIPS that might be useful for the AGORA images photographer community?
My advice would be to focus on something in particular, and not just take photos for the sake of it, or of everything that passes you by, because you will let the good moments, and the best images slip. I don’t mean that a photo needs to be excessively pre-planned, but that it can be polished and shaped as something you feel is really worthwhile.
What kind of resources or Media do you use to promote your work? We would love to share your links to promote your work.
What is it about an image that makes a GOOD PHOTO?
Generally I am most taken by good lighting. It is the first thing that catches my eye. It is then the mood transmitted by the photograph (in general the people in the image), and the colour tone if it is a digital shot, and has been edited, or in analog work, I even like to find out what kind of film was used.
Before developing his dance photography, Dayron Vera was a prominent solo dancer and photographer from Cuba based in Barcelona, Spain.
He has been selected as a Profoto Ambassador for the artistic quality and elegance of his portraits, mainly of dancers and actors.
He currently directs the CORELLA Dance Academy in Barcelona a high-performance dance school for students of Classical Ballet.
QUESTIONS FOR THE AGORA COMMUNITY:
- Do you share skills or passion for any of the other arts or creative activities? (Painting / Music / Dance / Design / Cooking … that you have used as an inspiration for your photos?