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Water-Water Everywhere

On Location in Washington DC
July 1, 2017

I love to shoot dancers in and around water! I have shot dancers in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, lakes, rivers, city fountains, and in the Gulf of Mexico. But I have never been able to shoot dancers in water in the studio where I can control the light…for obvious reasons.

I thought about this for years until one day I was standing in the parking lot of the dance school where I produce my studio shoots and it hit me! I could build an outdoor set in this parking lot and shoot at night! So, I went about figuring out how to do it. But first things first: Being a former Architect, I made a drawing!

The plan was that my assistant and I would build a dance floor in the parking lot. I wanted to do two types of shots: One, on a black reflective floor and then in about 3 inches of water. So my design was a floor and then a frame that would fit over the floor which we could cover in plastic and fill with water.

Off we went to Home Depot and purchased plywood, 2x4’s and 2x6’s and began the assembly in the parking lot.

We wanted the floor to have a bit of spring to it so it is raised off the ground on 2x4’s and screwed together.

Here is the finished floor with the removable 2x6 frame fitted in place. When covered in plastic and filled, it would hold about 3 inches of water.

Now that we had our floor, all we had to do was cover it with 6mil black plastic and create a black backdrop with plastic. Here I am explaining to the dancers how this was going to work! Notice my perfect dance form. 😊

Next, I explained…and demonstrated how my assistants were going to throw buckets of water on them! I know what you are thinking: Yes, the water was cold. It was city water but actually, after we wet the dancers down with a hose, they got accustomed to it….sort of.

Dancers being dancers, it took a few moments to practice different poses as we waited on darkness and the real fun to begin. Check out my lights covered with plastic, the two hoses and the two buckets.

Once it was dark, we began with the plain floor shots. Here are my two assistants with buckets in hand and a dancer on the set.

We shot from 8:30PM until midnight. The dance studio was open and inside was a warming area with robes and towels but as it turned out, the night was warm and the dancers stayed outside to watch each other get soaked with water. Here is a one minute video of some of the highlights

I wish to thank Nancy, the owner of Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance, my noble assistant Brad, my wife Holley who ran the computer, Cathy who shot the videos using my phone, and all of the others who helped. A special thanks to my four fabulous dancers: Heather, Laura, Maggie, and Rikki.

Please visit the gallery of images (all of that work for just 20 images) and click on the slideshow button upper right and in 60 seconds these 4 gifted dancers will dance and splash before your eyes.

Water-Water Everywhere