It’s Saturday morning.
My alarm goes off at exactly 5 am. I probably pressed the snooze button a couple of times, but I’m out of bed by 5:15 am.
It’s day 2 in this new city, in this new state. I probably finished work at 11pm last night and had 4 hours of sleep (on a good day).
I get ready to take on the 16-hour day that awaits me.
For the past few posts, I’ve written about different careers in the dance community. I thought this time I would introduce to you my job; a dance competition photographer.
I’ve been working with this dance competition company for 3 years now. From February to May, I travel practically every weekend to a different state in the U.S. In the 2 or 3 days, I probably see over 450 dances and take over 20,000 photographs. It’s a miracle the camera lasts after that many shots.
I grew up dancing, but I’ve never been a competition dancer. I have never competed and I have never attended a competition. Prior to working at this company, the only knowledge I had of dance competitions were what I saw on “Dance Moms” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” When I was interviewed for this position, I was told that I would take thousands of photos. I thought “that’s probably an over-exaggerated number. It can’t be that bad, right?” Well I was gravely wrong. Just like they warned, I did take thousands of photos. I probably take a lifetime’s worth of photos that your average photographer takes in the span of 4 months.
There are a few things that I have learned through my experience as a dance competition photographer.
Over the years, speed and precision are probably the two things that I have learned the most. These 2-4 minute dances go only once. Therefore you only have 1 chance to capture all the jumps, poses, and the like. I’ve learned to predict certain moves now so timing has gotten a bit easier, but doing that for 16 hours is definitely not an easy task. Which is where consistency and focus comes in. This job has been somewhat of a physical and mental training for me. And through this job, I see improvement in the photos that I take outside of dance competitions. I meet people who work in all different kinds of fields related to dance and I have a newfound appreciation for everyone who participates and works in dance competitions.
Competition season is still far from over and I can’t wait to see all the talent out there.