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Create EPIC dance photos with flying fabrics [part II]

My first video on the topic was released 8 months ago, where I shared a few tips and ideas on how to make epic fantasy images with flying fabrics... This is finally part II, 8 months later!

I've waited sometime before releasing this one for a good reason. I needed a bit more time, to test fail, and succeed. For the success part, I am not there yet but I am getting close. From small flowing dresses to huge flying fabrics, what I love about creating these is the dynamic and sense of movement it adds to the overall image.

So what did I learn in 8 months? The first thing you have to consider is the random results you will often get. You will try your best to control the fabric, but of course the bigger they are the more unpredictable they will be. Add to this the fact that I am working with dancers... and you are on your way to a memorable headache! Finding the right pose is something achievable for the dancer because sometimes the dress or fabric gets in the way, finding the perfect timing, capturing the moment where the fabric has the desired form and all of this perfectly placed in your frame could be fun and nerve-wracking at the same time. And let's not talk about lighting, especially if you are working with strobes. To make it all work, you simply have to break it down... This is how I do it:

  1. First, you decide where and lock your framing (I frequently use a tripod, I will tell you why later).

  2. 2nd, you explain to your model/ dancer what you wish to do with the dress and fabric... the general form it will have, the amount of space it will take in your frame, and so on...

  3. I then suggest the type of pose or movement, the direction where she or he has to look, and where the body has to go.

  4. Now you should have at least 2 poses or movements to work with... you can start rehearsing with the dress in movement or fabric. If you are working with a few assistants, rehearsing is necessary to find the perfect timing.

  5. Check your lighting, and make it right.

  6. Shoot!

And yes, you will make multiple attempts, because, with all these elements, chances are, you won't get it the first time. I work on a tripod for good reasons. In tight spaces, for example, my lights, my assistants can get in the way. So once I have the shot, I can then remove them, take a clean shot with nobody in the frame and erase everything later in photoshop.

People often ask me what type of Fabric I use. I cannot decide for you... The length and weight of the fabric won't give you the same "look". It's a matter of taste. If you want crease-free fabrics, use polyester and nylon-based fabrics... Cotton-based fabrics can be lighter but you will have a lot of work in post if you wish a clean, wrinkle-free fabric in your shot. I don't bother them, I hated when it is too clean, too perfect. Again this is up to you. I prefer using lighter fabrics indoors because they fly more and are easy to manipulate.



When I first used fabrics in my photography, I insisted on capturing most of my shots in one take. I wanted all in-camera, with no heavy manipulation in post.

I kind of changed my mind recently... sort of...

It's really not hard to do, you first capture the pose or movement, and then independently shoot the fabric and merge everything in post. The advantage of this method is that it gives you a bit more flexibility and options to bring your vision to life.

There is no right way to do it, I enjoy both methods! Unless you have an unlimited budget and a huge crew helping out, the second one gives you the ability to make epic shots that might be impossible to make in one take.

The fun in all of this is finding solutions to a creative problem and you learn so much during the process! I am not yet totally satisfied with the results I get with these images, so I guess there will be a part III in a few months, maybe at the end of this year.

So, are you planning on using flying fabrics, flowing dresses in your work? What method do you use? Tell me in the comments below!


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