"Perfectly Free" | A Study of Movement

“Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.” ― Rumi

During fall's busy season, my schedule is booked to the brim with portrait sessions for clients - which I love. Truly! But while I enjoy working for others and capturing their unique story and interactions, I sometimes grow weary and burnt out. The creator in me is starving for something exciting, new and different. That's when I realized I need to take time to shoot for me. Heather the Artist. I need to flex my creative muscles and fill my artistic soul with a vision completely my own. With this epiphany, I reached out to a dancing relative to invite her to model for me in a collaborative shoot to capture movement and carefully controlled power. I have always been enamored with the technique and athleticism dancers possess and I wanted to catch a glimpse of the beauty, grace, and poise ballet demands. 

We narrowed down wardrobe choices (that cascading blue dress...!!!) and met at Tranquility Park to play. (Because, let's face it - my job really is play☺) We dodged bikers and hikers left and right, but it was the perfect backdrop - golden hour illuminating a winding trail lined in fresh, green glory. 

The session was as much of an experiment for me as it was for Sara and took some warming up on both our parts to get the feel for the mood we wanted. We started safe with positions and attitudes, but then we moved onto pirouettes, grand jetés, and firebird leaps. I put Sara through the ringer, but she gamely delivered flawless leaps and turns by the dozens and was always ready to give me more - even in the waist-high grassy marshlands.

As a former dancer, I am not perfectly versed in ballet vernacular but I knew enough to guide and direct movements and nuanced expressions, as well as communicating the goal. This was no senior photoshoot. It wasn't about the face or even Sara herself. It was about the movement. It was about making art and being able to look at a shot and imagine yourself the leaping goddess, gracefully bounding through the woods. And I'd say we nailed it. ☺

I love the extension of her limbs as she jumps, hair curling free-form in the wind of her propulsion, the fabric of her dress mimicking the undulating waves of water. I love the brooding concentration as she centers her gaze for another turn and I love the eyes closed in the seemingly effortless ecstasy of flying - even for just a moment. I love the quiet light filtered through the trees as evening fell, gently illuminating her lithe, bending form. I love the rich colors of golden light, verdant forest, azure fabric, auburn tresses. I love the enchantment of dancing among the trees, like a wood nymph come to life.

Sara, you were a pleasure to work with and I'm so grateful for your willingness to collaborate and perform opposite my lens.

Ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy the best from our evening of dancing free...


Heather Hall