April 15, 2010
The last two weeks I have been photographing the dance classes and students at Twinkle Toes Dance at the Main Street Performing Arts Center in Canoga Park. I had so much fun connecting with the children learning to express themselves through dance and music. The teachers were so dedicated and amazing and I want to thank Karen Hayes, the Director for her support and encouragement.
I am not a "school" photographer but I am a portrait artist. It's foreign to me to line people up and take a photograph. Working with people in their environments is a great expression of the art that tells a story of the person. In the dance studio, I set up a fun little background with a pink poof of tulle I called a "cloud" and I got to be 5 - 6 or 7 and got the girls to give me real smiles most of the time. I also took photographs of the mostly girls, just listening or dancing or waiting for a change of shoes to their tap shoes from ballet shoes. I can hear Miss Jill say "It''s Tap Time, Dancers!" as I write this.
I was reminded how ingrained behaviors are when a camera is pointed our way to make an expression we've been told to make. How many times those 3 year olds saw me pointing their way and they automatically said "cheese" without prompting. And I often countered with my own comments designed to get real smiles. I sat so they could copy me and they were posed. My feathers and tickle fairies (tools of the trade) were the bribes I used.
In any case, we all have stories of our lives that need to be told and recorded for our histories. Some of these little ones will fondly remember what they were like at that age and remember the songs that were played as they shuffled those tap shoes across the wood floor and were leaping across the room in tutus. Parents and Grandparents can hold that 5 year old in their hand and refresh their minds when they are old and frail and senile and clinging to the times their children were toddlers. Just from that piece of paper created by a moment and a camera.
We have momentous times in life that are traditional for photography - transitions and celebrations and certain ages. But don't forget that the everyday life needs to be recorded and the stories told. The photos might recall a scent, a time past that will be sentimental. A parent will fondly recall a look and action and expression of emotion of the two year old that will sustain them when they are being cared for by their own child.
And while digital photography is the current medium to capture that photograph, we don't know if it will cause images to disappear like the cassette tape did so we must print it and archive it. Because it's not the piece of paper. It's much more. It's our Legacy and we must preserve that on paper to keep it in our hearts.