Working with two very different dance companies in just two days.

I was lucky to be able to work with two dynamic dance companies in two consecutive days. The first was the Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater, which brings the energy of Harlem to Portland and the second was Portland Contemporary Ballet—for their 2019 season titled White Dress, which is a metaphor for ‘a choice that needs to be made’.

REJOICE! DIASPORA DANCE THEATER

The effort between the photographer and the dancer is a collaborative one. Dance is a continuous movement, but dance photography is about stopping time, of presenting dance as a singular movement. My responsibility to the dancer is to create an image that conveys the essence of what they do in a single image and in the perfect position.

Dancer in yellow dress on red background
Suspension of time and motion; one reason I love what I do. Capturing quiet moments like this take more work that you’d expect. She’s spinning, dancing, in motion.

For Rejoice!, the goal was to embrace a color palette and to create dynamic energy through that use of color. I was challenged to create visuals that heighten the contemporary and classic African dance roots. That meant finding moments, finding poses, and freezing a moment that hints at the joy and energy of this company. These dancers were fun and collaborative—they truly carry emotion through their bodies, and into their dance.

PORTLAND CONTEMPORARY BALLET

Ballerina with white dress flowing
I was thrilled to work with Muriel Capdepon of Portland Contemporary Dance for their 2018/19 season.

People ask all the time…’how did you get that job?’ In this case, Therese reached out to Portland Contemporary Ballet to ask for a favor. In doing that, she befriended artistic director Briley Neugebauer . And that led to this incredible shoot for their 2018/19 season brochure!

Portland Contemporary Ballet, featuring, Muriel Capdepon, Victoria Lauder, Katherine Evans, Sara Gilbert, Carla Coelho, Tessa Salomone and Ella Matweyou
Ballerina posing on pointe wearing white dress
Ballerina Muriel Capdepon wearing the white dress.

Capturing quiet moments like this take more work that you’d expect. We started our full day shoot with ballerina Muriel Capdepon wearing the white dress. She makes this pose look simple, but it’s exactly the opposite. Holding that position was near impossible, and the dress wasn’t being cooperative.

Digging Through the Archive

Entertainment photographer Andy Batt created photographs of band members flying through the air

The other day, I was looking for some info for SEO on my website, and came across this shoot for Roxy Epoxy and The Rebound. Often associated with such fierce and striking artists as Karen O, Siouxsie Sioux, and Chrissie Hynde, Roxy Epoxy made a lasting impact on the punk and indie scene in Portland in the early 2000’s.

Andy wanted to create the sense of falling for the band, so we built a platform, rented a crash pad, and asked them to just go for it! Would I recommend this approach? Maybe not – as one of the band injured their ankle. This was a lesson in ‘oh, that’s why there’s professional stunt people!’

I think I’ll add this work to the ‘entertainment’ gallery on our site. Can’t call Andy an entertainment photographer if he’s not shooting in the genre, right?

The Bad Choices Project gets it’s first graphic novel, with support from Lensbaby

Two characters from the world of Bad Choices stumble in the late afternoon along a riverbank

photographed by Andy Batt

Lensbaby, makers of creative effect camera lenses, asked me to help them launch a new lens, the Sol 45mm. They wanted me to choose a personal passion project, and for me, that meant a new story within the world of Bad Choices .

My first job was to integrate the Sol 45 look with my storytelling.

Lensbaby gave me a pre-production model to carry around and experiment with. It’s a distinctive lens with loads of personality. The important part for me was integration; I didn’t want to simply overlay a lens on top of an image. The lens needed to be part of the storytelling. There’s a swirling, dreamlike quality to the images the Sol captures, and I wanted my story to be communicating that idea as well.

My attempt at a storyboard. Don’t judge.
A lost inmate from an apocalyptic jail wanders the forest wearing a yellow helmet
Subject Fourteen wanders, lost, through the woods

I spent time sitting the writer’s chair.

I needed to discover which characters would be part of this world. This became an opportunity to add a character to my world. “Subject Fourteen” is someone who’s been stripped of his own name and lost in the woods. After creating a quick set of graphic novel storyboards to help me map out the story, and discovering what the visual story would be, I went looking for locations.

No matter how rough, creating a storyboard is integral to my process.
The look of the Sol 45 lens really became a part of the story.

“I wanted the helmet to feel like something that would trap someone, with various test probes and hoses attached to it.”

I turned to my costume designer Becca, and we came up with a backstory for 14’s outfit. He’s not the first ’14’ to wear it—it’s old, patched and worn, and now that it’s been through salt water, and a muddy slog through the woods. It’s real ugly. The helmet was tricky. I didn’t want it to be military or look like a robot. I wanted it to feel like something that would trap someone, with various test probes and hoses attached to it; a helmet for testing someone and keeping them isolated. My prop master Galvin Collins jumped in to create a ‘savage’ level build. He created a full package of working parts, age and damage, mysterious hose attachments, medical gauges and straps.

Sketch storyboard for Misled #1
Amitesh Prasad plays “14” and Tina Kraft is Turner

We had an amazing day on location, creating everything that ended up in the book, and working with the crew from Lensbaby. It took some time to refine the design process, do a few rewrites of the sparse text and dialog, but now that I can look on it as a final printed piece, I can say that I’m happy, and truly looking forward to writing and shooting Misled No. 2

-andy batt


Misled issue No. 1 on sale now!

As part of the fundraising to continue the project, this beautifully printed 24 page graphic novel is on sale for $25—completely overpriced! BUT it comes with a signed mystery 5×7 print, my hearty thanks, and the joy of knowing you supported ART! You can always go read the comic online—it’s FREE to read, and FREE to share. If you like it, buy a print copy!