Updated: Mar 22, 2022
Running into problems that were completely unexpected is just part of being a photographer. It's almost as if we start to plan for the the unexpected and pencil in time to fix a number of things that could never be predicted. This may be why that a lot of photographers I know love to problem solve and figure out new ways to solve challenges.
A group of my friends are really talented aerial artists and I always loved seeing photographers work with these unique athletes. I wanted to try my hand and see what kind of art we could make with an empty gym and an afternoon to kill. Having never done this before, I spent the week and half leading up to the shoot date doing some research on anything I could find pertaining to any photography related to this. I knew the challenges would be high given the amount of variables in these shoots. Your model is suspended, holding an extremely difficult pose while you try to set the perfect lighting. Stress can set in fast and hard when scrambling to do everything almost simultaneously. I came prepared with a car full of gear, "just in case" being a phrase I'm very close with now, ready for whatever was going to happen.
Getting started was slow as I made my way around the gym trying to visualize where I was going to set up and what gear I was going to use. There were so many possibilities and no amount of research was going to make me an aerial expert overnight. Trying something new can lead to fear of failure. I always feel an unnecessary amount of pressure before doing something I've never tried before as if messing up will be the end of line for me. In reality it isn't until I make that first mistake that I calm down and realize it's natural and everything is working just fine. Moments like these as a photographer remind me of something extremely important. Take time to learn from where you are standing. I had an opportunity to allow these women to walk me through setups they've seen before as well as what would work, in a technical sense, for gear and their setup.
It felt like one big group project with a bunch of minds focused on one goal of creating amazing images. I brought along my #Canon 5D MkIV camera and #Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 and 35mm f/1.4 lenses. I made sure to have my aperture all the way open to soften the silk we hung as our backdrop and bring all the focus to the foreground. For lighting set up I went with my #Neewer Vision 4 studio strobe and a 3 ft octo-softbox on a #Manfrotto rolling boom stand. This allowed me to change the main light with ease. An extremely important asset when shooting subjects where the scene can change so fast. I alternated using fill lights with #Godox barn door modifier attachments on different shots during this session to play with the drama of the scene.
In this image here you can see how the rim lights illuminate the background as well as define the subject. I loved how these were turning out, but I did want to try setting a more dramatic tone by removing the lights. In the image above you can see how there is more of a natural vignette as well as the backdrop as a whole is less exposed. This brought that sense of drama I wanted to experiment with. Being able to capture two stunning images back to back with a subtly different story can be done with the switch of a light!
I had a blast working with these amazing women at Aerial Theory Fitness. The creativity matched their athleticism and I got to be a part of true art. No matter how much experience you have doing something, it is definitely worth doing! It may seem impossible or like you will fail, but it is always worth the effort to get better. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and the people around you. That is the best and fastest way to grow!