Ballet Zaida is a photography project started by dancer turned photographer Oliver Endahl. I first noticed Ballet Zaida when many of my dancing friends starting "liking" his Facebook page about a year ago. I originally contacted Oliver to ask him for permission to use his photography for the blog. You were so blown away by his photos I thought you might appreciate an interview.
Dancing Branflake: If you could, please tell us your philosophy when photographing dancers.
Ballet Zaida: I strive to show off the best classical ballet technique in my photography. Throughout my life I've seen a lot of ballet photographs where the technique is so off it ruins the photo. One of the reasons I started Ballet Zaida was so that there could be an outlet where not only dancers, but anyone, could see great ballet technique for free.
DB: What makes a photo shoot successful?
OE: If at the end of a photoshoot everyone had a good time, and we got 10 to 15 solid photos. That's a perfect shoot.
DB: Do you direct the dancers with poses and movements or do you simply capture them dancing in the moment?
OE: I'll tell the dancers where to stand in accordance to the environment, and give them a general pose idea, like maybe an arabesque, a back bend, or a pose from a famous ballet. From there they put their own spin on it, and the result is usually excellent.
DB: You were a dancer before you become a photographer. What is your dance background?
OE: I spent around a decade dancing at the San Francisco Ballet School. I stopped dancing right before I would have joined a company, because it was time to move onto something new.
DB: What camera do you use?
OE: I use a Canon 7D and a Canon 50D, and I only shoot digitally
DB: Any advice on how to look good in a picture?
OE: Be confident, because you have no reason not to be. Especially in ballet photography, you could have the best body and the most wacked out feet. But it's all meaningless if you don't have the confidence.
DB: Any advice on how to photograph a good picture?
OE: Take into account the lighting, and try to remove yourself from your own memories. Try and look at the photo as if you knew nothing about it, and ask yourself how the photo makes you feel. A lot of people assume everyone else will think the same thing, and get the same feeling they get when they view a photograph. And it normally doesn't work that way because everyone thinks differently.
DB: What is your ideal lighting when doing a photo shoot?
OE: I try and only shoot at sunrise, or sunset. I think the lighting is the best at those times of day.
DB: What are your future plans for Ballet Zaida?
OE: Right now I'm focusing on spreading the word, and exposing as many people as possible to Ballet Zaida.
A lot of people are concerned ballet is a dying art, and I want to change that. I think an online photography project is the perfect way to introduce ballet to the masses, and make the art form more accessible to the public. I have multiple projects I'm working on that have never been done in dance photography before. And I think not only dancers, but the world, will enjoy them.
Thank you, Oliver, for sharing you talents and skills with us.
Have an awesome dancing day!