When Inspiration Takes a Shoot From Basic To Breathtaking

I had a troupe of ballet girls contact me, in need of an arabesque pose to be photographed, along with a headshot, to be distributed to ballet companies for consideration. A very basic, straight forward set of goals to accomplish for a Matty shoot. I knew when I was going to have them at the studio, I’d toss in another look or two since we were all there. The cameras and lights were up and popping, why not? But by the time I finally put the cameras down for the day, I would have never realized we would have made so many great looks when we started with such a basic concept. One of the most important lessons I’ve had drilled in to me time and time again is to take every opportunity that is tossed your way and run with it. With three, very talented (and very excited) teenage girls ready to have some fun in front of the camera, I saw the opportunity to expand the shoot well beyond the requested two looks and made a pile of amazing images.

These are the two shots they came in to see me for. Everything after that… all “bonus.”


Nothing wrong with the images above. Nice, clean, perfect for sending off to ballet companies. But when you have some talent in front of the lens and have the option to keep going, you keep going. Their accompanying mothers had no objections to hanging out while we got a bit more creative with things. Time for the fun stuff! We would finish one look only to come up with another one immediately after. All of these concepts were brainstormed right there on the spot, I’d fiddle with some lights to finalize the look, and then we’d shoot it.




Ballet dancers are an easy subject to become enamored with. The simplicity, the beautiful body lines, and the athletic dedication all coming together to make a really fun shoot. Inspiration is the ultimate fuel source to keep the brain and energy in high gear.





After every concept we did together, the more the excitement and fun would rise for all of us in the studio. The girls have a silly side to them (of course), and when mixed with the elegance of ballet, it is a super funny situation. Below are two of my favs, both were taken when the girls were adjusting poses or simply just laughing together (as teenage girls do) while I tested and tweaked lighting.



Here is our best, quick nod of the cap to a Vanity Fair look.



Every time I go to start a new paragraph and introduce the next look, I want to write, “these are my fav.” I honestly couldn’t pick between any of these. The girls are very talented. I’d bark a pose or idea their way from behind the camera and they’d nail it the first time. A joy to capture.





I could’ve shot this group of fun girls for hours and hours. And hours. But at some point, you gotta call it a wrap. We designed the last look to give the feeling of being on stage with a single spot light on the dancer(s). A fun combination of silhouettes and glancing side lighting for some texture.






I think the camera was smoking from all the shots we took this evening. We made so many great photos, of the group and of each girl, that we arranged a pizza party for the photo review so that all of the parents could make it in to enjoy the review process we do here at Matty Photography. Between the dozen or so people who were able to make the review, you better believe the air was filled with a lot of “OMG’s” as they watched the opening slideshow.