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Ballet Talk for Dancers
Beezus21

Photographers and your DDs?

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Beezus21

I have always admired the works of some of the dance photographers I see on instagram including Rachel Neville, Eva Nys, Gene Schiavone, and Jason Lavengood (aka- Timber.no). I have been watching their respective instagram pages and my "parental buzzer" went off today as I read some of the things posted on Timber.no instagram feed. He has a top ten list from his favorite pictures this year, and he gives a short bio of each girl. While he speaks kindly of each girl and their families, he also comments a lot on their looks, lines, and different aspects of their bodies. To me, it seemed inappropriate.  It seemed like these teenage girls were his muses. It made me think twice about letting my DD do a shoot with someone I didn't know. I am wondering if I am being very conservative or if others have noticed this with some of these dance photographers? 

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Thyme

Ok so I raced over to Instagram and checked timber.co and enjoyed his photos. I consider myself to be pretty sensitive to the issues you describe. I didn't experience any warning bells. My take on it is that he is discussing the photo and why he likes the lines as well as the effects achieved. It passes My sniff test. I agree though that you need to be cautious with photographers having access to your children. Dance and otherwise. Same as any other service. 

 

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AB'sMom

I also noticed that he usually thanked both the dancer and the family, which makes me think that he was mindful of how people might view the situation. I think it’s hard to be a visual artist, or comment on art, without objectifying the subject in some way. I appreciated that he also praised the strength and determination, or other qualities, of the dancers as well. 

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cat11

Beezus, my DD and several of her friends have worked with Timber.  Everything about our experience was that he is thoughtful, kind, and respectful.  He insists that a parent or guardian always accompanies the dancers during a shoot, and are there at all times.  I read what you did as well, and saw no problems with the things he said. The dancers who we know he has photographed have all been in complete awe of the photos he took, and when I saw them, so was I.  He somehow managed to take my somewhat awkward looking dancer, and capture a strength and beauty in her that took both our breaths away.  In my opinion he is an artist.  He sees taking dance photos as a "collaboration" between himself and the dancer, always being respectful of the dancer- he asks that the dancer comes up with the poses and movements,  and always tries to be true to the spirit of who the dancer is.  Seeing his photographs changed the way my DD felt about herself and saw herself, in a very powerful way, so I can not say enough about how talented we feel he is. Yes, you do need to be very careful about who you expose your child too. However I would suggest that perhaps reaching out to the families of dancers who have used a particular photographer and researching in person, rather than using a public forum to speculate about a specific photographers' motives, which could be unfairly damaging to a very talented photographer's career, might be the better way to go.

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Beezus21

Thank you for all your responses.  No harm meant to the photographer, but I don't know a single person who has shot with him.  

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Thyme

Beezus21- I think it is perfectly acceptable to raise your reasonable concerns about this photographer on this site. We were all able to look at the work and draw our own conclusions. Feeling unable to express your concerns, even if they are based on your gut is how we get into the troubles we are all sadly aware of. These are complicated times for sure and I too dislike how men are being tried in the court of public opinion. We do however need to be able to raise concerns without making accusations and not be fearful of rocking this previous ballet boat (slight ironic tone intended). 

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cat11

I agree Thyme. However I am torn to some degree.  Many photographers, and artists in general, rely on "word of mouth" for their business.  In this day and age even the mere suggestion of some impropriety can cause harm in terms of loss of business, at the least. I guess I was reacting somewhat protectively of a photographer whom I consider to be a gifted and genuine artist, and a good person. I did not mean to come across heavy-handed and apologize Beezus if that's what it sounded like.  When my DD has looked at working with different photographers, one of the things that she has done is to reach out to some of the dancers who have public profiles, and dm'd them, asking about their experiences.  I was also careful to do research on my own as well. You could use this forum to ask a question, as in, does anyone have any experience working with xyz photographer, and see what kind of first hand information you can get.  I hope that helps if you ever are interested in finding a good dance photographer to work with.

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artsRus

A little while back my DD then about 15 was asked with a friend Group to join a photo shoot with a popular dance photographer in our area. She did the shoot. There were no parents present. It was against my better judgement but there were a group of girls and I let her go.  I followed his Instagram page and later saw that he regularly posts pictures of girls on a bed in ballet poses and sometimes in their underwear or less. I wondered if someone who photographs older girls/young women in this way should be running around town photographing a group of teen girls. It really does bring up a good question about where the line is drawn.  Now that I see the types of photos he thinks are appropriate I would never had let her do this shoot.  The girls just want nice pictures from well known names. Luckily he has not posted any of our girls on his page because that brings up another question. What types of audience does he have with half naked young looking women as a theme? You do have to be careful!

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ballet1310

You do have to be careful of con artists also - not sure how much I can say here but there is someone in NYC ( male photographer) who is an actual photographer and has taken pictures of professionals but attempts to get the girls to buy "comp" cards for modeling etc .... ( we were not scammed because I knew right away what he was trying to do but there are girls who have been) again, not sure what I can say here - moderators, maybe you can guide me on how much to say

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motherhem

I have no direct knowledge of either of the photographers but I do follow some of them on IG because I love their photos and respect their art.  But I think this topic can be summarized:When deciding on  photographers for your dancer, do your research and trust your gut.  

While your gut may be wrong sometimes you will always feel better if you listen to it.  There are lots of really good dance photographers out there.  So if one doesn’t feel right, find another one.  I can almost guarantee that they want clients or subjects who trust them.  

Also, this is just good advice: Never leave your child alone with an adult that you do not know. 

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cat11

You do need to be Very careful about many photographers who are out there right now advertising themselves as "dance" photographers.  My DD has been approached by several who we did not consider to be above board.  The number one thing I always ask, and insist on, is that a parent is present during a shoot.  If there is any resistance to that, even the slightest, I take it as a red flag.  My DD has also always asked for input on what (if any) images get posted on a photographer's social media; she is an artist as well and feels she should have a say over how she is portrayed.

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dancemaven

And even if you do decide the person is trustworthy, keep an eye and radar out.  The predators are very, very good at developing trust, both the parents’ and the subjects, and biding their time.  Think of all the priests that got away with it, Nassar, etc.  And remember that they all had their defenders.

 So, no, this isn’t an easy black and white, bright line kinda thing.  It takes a lot of caution and continued caution.  

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Momof3darlings

Yes, in all ways and even with well known names, be careful.  Unless you have right of refusal for all photos even those not selected, they can show up later.  In addition, remember that many photographers uplist not only photos but silhouettes and other images to photography and stock image sites for compensation.   We have a local studio here who had a well known photographer take photos but had no idea that years later many silhouettes of their ballet dancers would show up in places where money was paid for them yet they received no compensation.  Many of the ballet silhouettes you see on google images and such are from that very first set of photos they took simply because someone one learning to shoot dance.  When seeing them, I can tell you specifically which dancers they are because I costumed many of them.  

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VikingMom

Well, I consider myself to have damn good radar, yet my DD did a photo shoot with Chris Reilly and I had zero creeper vibes. I thought he was great. Though he didn’t want me standing right beside him, we were in public so I didn’t watch the whole time or worry about it. And he spoke in a very protective manner about stopping any men from taking photos behind him. He walked away when she changed behind a sheet. After all, he was a father of two teenage daughters with a national reputation. He fooled HUNDREDS of dancers, moms, competitions, and dance professionals, as well as the schools where he photographed thousands of children. TRUST NO ONE! 

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ballet1310

Yikes vikingmom - I agree trust no one - I will also add for new comers , the outdoors , in the street , beach , wherever etc shoots are not nevesssary for ballet - if you do them because you want a pretty shot , ok but otherwise wait to pay someone for professional audition shots when needed 

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