The promotional photography shoot for BodyCartography’s Super Nature, which you can check out tonight here at the Walker, was one of those times when all of the elements come together. I got to work with a collaborative group of dancers at a fascinating location on a beautiful day in May.
We shot at the University of Minnesota’s Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve—2200 hectares of research land consisting of seven different habitats representing the different ecologies of Minnesota, allowing us to photograph in a variety of settings all within a short walk.
BodyCartography Project co-directors Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad and I discussed trying to represent the dichotomy of the animal and the social inherent in the “ecological melodrama” that is their piece. Slowly but surely, the shoot started to feel less like a dance shoot and more like a mashup of anthropological study and wildlife photography. I began to approach it as such to present the feeling of discovering animals in their natural environment, using longer lenses and shooting from behind grasses and shrubs.
The dancers brought a sense of play and discovery—dancing a full afternoon in the hot sun and rough terrain without complaint—even while wearing polyester. My favorite part of the day was shooting each dancer as they took turns interacting with a charred tree, creating moments that ranged from the sublime to the comical.
Below are the final images that we used for the cover of the Performing Arts brochure as well as the cover of our September/October 2012 issue of the Walker magazine. They were also used in a variety of ads around town.
After witnessing and documenting a bit of Super Nature, I can’t wait to see what happens in the theater this week.