I am Anastasia, a 21 year old female artist and dancer. I am currently enrolled at the University of Maryland studying art, specifically digital media. My hope one day is to be a successful photographer. At the University of Maryland, not only do I study art, but I also have become immersed in the ballroom dance community. It started freshman year when I decided to join a club because I was a commuter and hadn’t had a chance yet to make a lot of friends. I did ballet when I was very little, and I wanted to find my way back to the dancing world. I thought ballroom would be a great outlet to make friends and to dance again. I didn’t realize how much it would take up my life. Now three years, I am president of the ballroom dance team, working with my amazing partner to make our debut in open (I’ll explain more what the different levels mean in a different post).
Now what is a picture line? A picture line is a figure in which the couple stops moving and creates a beautiful line with their bodies. During these short moments, it is a photographers oppertune time to take a picture of the dancers at their best possible moment. The picture at the end of the post demonstrates the many different picture lines, or line figures, performed by Mirko Gozzoli and Alessia Betti, who no longer dance together.
When I’m not doing school work or practicing dance, I take my camera out and take photos. Recently I have been focusing on dancesport photography and concert photography. Now I love all forms, but those two types of photography really are speaking to me right now. I want to use this blog to post my photography and art to share and grow. That’s all that I have for now. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.
As you may or may not have noticed, I now have a new page to go see on this blog entitled Indiegogo Campaign. It will take you to a page that briefly tells you what I am doing and why. In this post I am looking to go more indepth of why I started this campgain, and why it means so much to me.
As you know if you have been following, art, specifically photography, is my first love and my life choice in terms of career. Over the past three years at Maryland, I have grown as a person and as an artist and have come to terms with what I want to do with my life. I have made up my mind that I want to be a photographer. It’s not an easy choice to make, in fact it is quite daunting. It’s a highly saturated field, with a huge failure rate, and sporadic income. Well doesn’t that sound like a bundle of joy. But working at my part time, secure job has made me realize that I don’t want to be stuck at a desk all day for the rest of my life. I would be miserable. So I made that leap. I promised myself that I want to be a full time photographer in the very near future.
Ok the hard part of deciding what I want to do with the rest of my life is over. Whew… Got that stuggle out of the way. But what’s this? A whole nother slew of struggles of how to get from Point A, “now I know what I want to do”, to Point B, “making the dream the reality.” That’s where this blog comes in. I decided that I wanted to get my art work out there and hopefully start a gathering of people, while also talking about my second love dance. It was in this almost half a year of blogging (gosh has it really been that long?) that I realized that I wanted to mesh the two together. I have been dancing since I was little, and in college I fell in love with ballroom dancing. And you know what they say, stick to what you know. Well I know photography, and I know dance– so why not tailor my portfolio to dancing.
That makes it one step closer to getting to Point B. In the latter half of this semester, I have been using my photography class to just sit down and force myself to just take ballroom photos. And guess what, my photographs have turned out better because of two reasons. The first being is that I understand my subjects. I understand how their bodies move. And I have been developing my skills to understanding how and when I should snap that photo. The second reason being is that I actually enjoy taking these photos. It does show in your work when you truly love what you are doing. There is a certain care and love that comes out in those photographs. I do not feel like this is work when go into these photo shoots, because it’s fun. I am not constantly check to see how my shots are left in my roll of film. In fact, half the time I don’t realize that I only have one shot left and am completely surprised when my camera starts rewinding the film back into the canister.
I have also started a facebook page, which I will link to below, to further showcase my photography. In the past 2 weeks that it has been up, I have gained 85 “likes,” which is amazing! I am truly pleased with the outcome so far! I have also been connecting with the local ballroom community, and I hope to have a few events lined up in the future. I have also been in contact with the school’s Student Start Up Incubator, Startup Shell, to gain business advice and support for the next year I will be attending school. All of these things above are what I have done to get be to my ultimate goal of Point B.
Now I am in need of some help. As you know, I am a college student, which means I have a limited access of funds. I work part time, but it is usually only enough to get me food, gas, and supplies during the school semester. Right now, to grow my business even further, I want to start a full fledge website for my photography. I want to be able to professionally showcase my art, as well as provide client access for prints. Unfortunately I do not have the funds to create one myself. This is where you, my readers and followers, come into play.
I have started up an Indiegogo Campaign for my website (link below). I am asking for $500 dollars to set up my website. The cost includes webhosting the main page with wordpress.org, and the webhosting through zenfolio for the photography portion of the website. I am currently at 20% of my total goal. If you can, I would greatly apprciate any support you can offer. Whether it be donating to the campaign, or sharing the campaign with your friends and family. This would mean so much to me. Thank you so much in advanced and for all the support you have given me thus far.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and a safe holiday!
Ok, so you know how paint was going really well… Well now it’s not. We have now moved on from learning techniques, do using those techniques to come up with our own post-modern (as that’s the current era of art we are in) painting. I’m trying to do dancers, because that’s what I know… But every sketch I do just isn’t coming out right. My professor is trying to get me draw influence from the futurist painters. But I’m still having trouble. Every sketch I show him isn’t quite what he’s looking for. I tried going down to the art library to find a folio of futurist art, but guess what… It’s no where to be found. The catalog system says that it is shelved, but is it on the shelf? Nope. Is it on one of the reshelving carts? Nope. The clerk at the desk said she would have someone contact me once they find it, but right now I don’t have a lot of faith.
I completely understand why my teach is pushing me towards a more futurism approach to my painting. The futurists really focused on creating movement in their works. Futurism came out of the Cubist movement. The Cubists wanted to showcase every side of the image they were painting. Futurists, however, wanted to show that thing in motion. One of the more famous paintings is the dog walking on the leash.
As you can see in this painting, the dog, the leash, and the feet all are in the various stages of walking. You can see the progression from one end of the canvas to the other. My professor wants me to lean towards this style of painting, but be even more abstract. He is especially pushing me this way since I am not the greatest drawer in the world. In fact, drawing is my weakest area of the art world. Thank goodness I love photography, right? Hopefully I can come up with something soon, as I have until the end of the semester to come up with 2 more paintings, including the current one I’m working on now.
The reason I’m spending so much time on my sketches is because he commented that was the weakest part of my Mid-Term Review. He stated that he wanted me to work more on my sketches so that I have a clearer and more precise map for the canvas itself. And he’s completely right. If you have a really good road map on the small scale, the larger scale will go so much faster, and will turn out better in the end. I hope I can come up with some really good final sketches soon so I don’t fall too far behind.
When it comes to any type of career or hobby that is subjective, it is very easy to slip into a bad state of mind. Take competitive ballroom as an example. You practice, take lessons, buy the proper attire, do you hair and make up, in order to please a 4-6 judges to make it to the final, if not first place. Almost everything a serious competitive dancer does it to please someone else. I can just hear some of them now saying “No, I only do this for myself, it’s fun!” Say that to me with a straight face a long with the phrase “I really don’t care about my placement.” This this sport, as with many other artistic sports, we are looking for that stamp of approval from an outside source to say that we are doing everything right, or that we are improving. The problem with this sort of attitude it can lead down a terrible path inside the mind that could lead to a breakdown. And no one wants that.
There is a real problem with having your only self-worth coming from an outside source. Maybe you only have this attitude for dancing, but it still isn’t healthy. You need to have confidence in your own dancing first, before anyone else can boost it. Now I’m not saying this because I have it all figured out… Please, I’m a college student whose job is to please people to earn good grades. Even when it comes to dance sometimes I even forget this concept, and rely on judges marks to affirm my dancing self-worth. I’m saying this so that we can work together on keeping our minds and body happy. There are so many factors that go into judging you on the floor. First, judges at most only have about 3 seconds to look at you. 3 seconds. They don’t see all the hard work you put into your dancing. They don’t see all the coaching sessions you’ve done. They didn’t see your amazing practice rounds this past week. They only see those three seconds of dancing, and it better be a good three seconds if you want that callback.
But like I have been saying all throughout this post, getting called-back isn’t the end all and be all of dancing. You have to realize that, no matter the call backs, you have done well. You have improved. It is very unlikely that you haven’t improved. As long as you have taken lessons, private or group, and you have practiced what you have learned in those lessons, you are making progressed. You have improved from day one. Just take a look at your old dance videos. Cringe worthy yes, but they will give you perspective and let you know that you have improved. Also talking to your coach can give you some perspective. They can tell you what you did right, and what you did wrong at the competition. More likely then not, they will say that yes you did this and this wrong and you could have done this better, but these other things you still did really well.
Although we do this crazy competitive sport to win, we also do this because we like it. If you don’t like it, you shouldn’t be on the floor. Just remember that knowing that you are improving, and that you enjoy dancing is what really matters in this game. It’s not the ribbons, or the satisfaction of someone else putting their stamp of approval on your dancing. Those things are nice. But in the end it’s your how you view your dancing is what really matters. As long as you feel like you are improving and getting somewhere that’s what counts.
- Second Best Advice I Can Give (picturelinephotography.wordpress.com)
There are a lot of things I don’t know, but the one thing I am struggling with right now is selling myself. I am having this issue of trying to write this email to an event manager to see if I can get a spot as being one of the event photographers. I have this huge lists of reasons of why this would be a great opportunity for me to take photos at this event, but my list of why they should hire me… consists of nothing. Besides being cheap, why would a large event want to hire a student photographer? The only positive thing that currently sets me apart from the other photographers they have hired in the past is that I really want to shoot the event on film and on digital. It would provide them with a completely different feel to the photos. Films’ grains give a warmer, softer feel to photos sometimes then pixels. I would be the only one at the event shooting with film. Of course I would definitely have my digital camera with me as well to take pictures, as I can take a lot for very little cost on my end. And I’m not asking for a lot on their end. All I really want is a chance to shoot, and to have my room and travel expenses covered, which is a lot cheaper than hiring a photographer on for the full weekend. If anyone out there has any advice of selling oneself to a potential client please comment below. Any suggestions are welcome!
Alright, lots of printing has happened over the last few weeks. I have a few things to show you. First and for most is the quality of light photo project. This one stumped me, as it was hard for me to come up with different aways to create different lighting schemes. It wasn’t until the last few shots I really felt that I got into my grove, which really made me sad. It wasn’t until I found reflections in puddles after some rain that I found some really cool compositions. Here are the two she wanted me to print.
We also had a mini class discussion with her about some of us, including me, having a hard time shooting a roll a week. Within the projects we had, many of us had a hard time finding inspiration. She gave us two solutions to this problem. Her first solution was to let us start shooting subject matter that we want for the rest of the semester. For some people that’s portraiture. For other’s it’s completely forgetting about film and working on digital photography. For me, it’s ballroom dance. My rolls for the remainder of the semester will consist of dancers. Whether they be practicing, competing, or getting ready for competing, I will be taking their photos. Finally something I will enjoy. Though I will not be without my challenges. Studios, ballrooms, and the gym we practice in all have a lighting issue. So having a high enough shutter speed to capture good action shots maybe prove to be difficult.
The second solution was to go out during one class and do a mini shooting workshop around campus. Many people were having a hard time finding inspiration in around campus place that we walk around day in and day out. So she took her camera, and took us around to show us what we were missing. She showed us this really cool area where it was a courtyard which would lend itself to fashion photography. We also went to some warehouse type places to show us that even in the most unlikely places we could find interesting things to shoot, or interesting environments to shoot portraits in. Unfortunately, I did not get to take a lot of photos as I was helping out our teacher with her equipment. I think this was a great experience for all of us. It opened our eyes to what makes a good photography, and the process of getting that good photograph. It was much easier to adjust the angles that day as we were using her digital camera, and had instant feedback of what the picture looked like. You aren’t so fortunate in film. You have no clue how that picture is going to come out until you take the time to develop the roll, create a contact sheet, and print the picture.
Lastly, we had our midterm review on Monday. It went less then stellar. We found out as a class, we kinda suck at created good compositions. We also suck at picking out good photos out of our current portfolios. We also learned that we are putting way too much pressure on ourself with this class. She really does not care how we fulfill the project guidelines in terms of content, but as long as we shoot at least one roll of film per week. I am so glad I can finally focus completely on ballroom and dancesport photography. I also spoke with her and she has agreed to teach me how to use my fancy flash, as studios and ballrooms have very bad lighting. Hopefully I can get better, crisper action shots with the flash.
That’s all I have for now for photography. I have 2 rolls which I plan to develop this week, and 3 contact sheets to print. I’ve got a very busy week ahead of me for photography. See you next week!
Now my first bit of advice mostly applied to newbies; however, this bit of advice applies to all dancers as we all tend to forget this. It goes a little something like this. “If you don’t have it now, you won’t get it by comp time this weekend.” Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever stop practicing new figures, techniques, and frames. But you just need to refocus your priorities. When a competition is right around the conorn, there is no way you are gong to master that new double reverse spin turn that you learned last week in time for it to be competition ready. For those of you who might not be aware, it takes at least six (6!) months to develope muscle memory. This is why cramming before a ballroom comepition will not work! Instead it will almost always will hinder your proformance, rather than inhance it.
What you should focus on primarily during competition week is your current routines. Practice them over and over and over. To music, without music. In competition order. In solo rounds, in multi rounds. With other people on the floor, without people on the floor. Just keep doing your routines. This will get you ready for that quickly approaching competition weekend. This will help for a number of reasons. 1) you will be ready to dance your routine and given music. There will be no surprises. 2) You will get used to surprises that might happen at a comp, as in they have to switch events around for schedule reason. 3) You get used to the how many times your should routine will loop during those 90seconds of music (though things like floor craft issues my pop up). 4) You can practice your floorcraft, so you become more comfortable when sticky situations arise (cuz they will). 5) Endurance. The more you dance and the more dances you will be able to do in a row during practice, will better prepare you for doing multiple rounds form, hopefully, mulitple call backs.
In short do rounds, ALL THE ROUNDS! And save the thechinque until after the competition. Also make sure you get videos of your dancing at the comepetion as your coach may see something that you should start working on to make your dancing better for the next comp.
That is all I have for now. Good Luck to all of those competiting this weekend, especially those at DCDI. I, sadly, will not be dancing. I will be there chearing on my team mates (and my newbies!) and any other dancers I enjoy watching. Feel free to stop by and say hi! I will be the nervous person giving a speach Saturday Night during the night show… Please feel free to comment below for anymore advice you have for dancers of all levels!
As for a my art, my next few posts will be all about my different classes and what I have been up to. I need to photograph/scan some of my work in so that I can upload it to wordpress to share.
- The Best Advice I Can Give (picturelinephotography.wordpress.com)
Hello all, I know I didn’t post on Thursday, bad me, but I didn’t come up with inspiration until today. This goes out to all the newbies that will compete their very first competition really soon, or those who have competed already once but still feel incredibly nervouse. As for you advanced dancers, stick around. This post will help give you a bit of persepective, I hope.
The best advice I can give for those newbies struggling to feel prepared for their competition is that Rome was not built in a day. Now before you start shouting at me about that being a cliche, just stop and think about it. It is completely true. The Roman Empire lasted for 16 centuries! Now we all know how long and how much the Emperors struggled to expand their empire from the small city states that now are called Italy, all the way out to the Anglo-Saxon Britain and the Bysantine West. It took all those centuries to become a great, unforgettable Empire. It took a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears (mainly from the conqured tribes I’m sure) to make the Roman Empire strong and powerful.
Now you may be asking me, ok so what does Nero have to do with Samba? Well, that becoming an amazing dancer takes more than one day, or three months in the case of many of you. Not to say you haven’t come far in the past three months, because you have. You have learned 6 routines, in the case of the newbies I’ve thaught, to compete in two styles. You can get around the floor and turn corners in standard, and you can do many turning figures to allow your number been seen by as many judges as possible. Be proud of what you have accomplished; yet, remember that you still have an amazing, and yes long, journey a head of you.
Unlike the Roman empire, it will not take centuries for you to become beautiful amazing dancers you see on youtube videos. Or I hope not, or else we all have a very serious problem. Instead it could take a few years before your mind and body can learn and apply all the techinque and figures to make you an amazing, high level amatuer, give or take a few years. Do not be scared or sad though. As long as you have the drive, and you invest time, and yes money, into your dancing you will get there. You will be able to achieve most, if not all of your dancing goals. And enjoy the ride, I know I have.
Newbies, if you are really terrified about looking like the worst person on that floor, look at newbie rounds from years past at competitions. Advance dancers, if you belong to a team, please pull up some videos from your past and share them with your newbies. Yes I’m looking at you. Stop cringing at me. I know the feeling. Just close your eyes and share, and run away from the computer for a few days. It sucks, and that’s ok. But honestly, this will give the newcomers a bit more confidence to know the older, veteran dancers sucked too. It is an eyeopener for them to see that they can become just like you one day, and that it’s not all about talent or sheer luck.
I recently did this, along with a bunch of other people on my team. And to be honest, I throuoghly enjoyed the experience. Not so much of looking at my old stuff, because seriously cringe!!! But because I got to see videos from way before my time, with some of my coaches in the newbie rounds. Most of these people I have only seen as prechamp or champ dancers. It gave me persepective to know that, yeah I could be them one day too, and I’m not too far off from acheiving my goals.
It has taken me three years to get where I am today in my dancing. I would not have traded the experiences I have gained from working towards my dance goals for somehow instantly being amazing. All the faults and missteps along the way have truly made me the dancer I am today, and without those experiences I believe I would be a worse dancer than I am right now. So hang in their kidos. Your journey has just started, and I promise you will get to that night show one of these days.
Gah sometimes the time gets away from me and I completely forget to post. This is one of those times. So I have a couple updates about the classes. The first painting in completed, yay! Here is a quick look at it.
I offically turn it in along with painting number two next week on the 24th for our midterm. Let me know what you think about it in the comments below!
The second painting that I mentioned is a series of four smaller paintings done on a 24×24 canvas, each image being 12×12. Here we are learning four different techinques, overpaint/underpaint, wet in wet, glazing, and impasto. The first techinque, overpaint/underpaint, is exactly what it sounds like, layers of paint overlaping each other to form the final design. Think impressionist. The second, wet in wet, involves adding paint on top of paint and smoothing the colors together to great a more blurry line of transitions between colors. Glazing, the third techinque, involves adding a thick, white medium to the canvas, and adding very light layers of pure colors and shades (adding black) to it. This gives you the purest and brightest colors out of all of the techinques. Also note, we do NOT add any tints, or adding white to our colors, in glazing. We only go down the color scale. Impasto is the last techinque we are applying to our canvas. This also involves adding medium to our canvas, but instead of trying to acheive really rich and vibrant hues, we are trying to ad visable, touchable texture to the piece. We are trying to build up the surface of the canvas to really make certain objects pop of the canvas.
So far I have only managed to finish my overpaint/underpaint. I think I am almost done with my wet in wet, but I have not touched the other two. I have brought my canvas home with me to work on the wet in wet so that I can focus competely on the other two techinques on Tuesday in class. Here is what I have so far.
Although I haven’t been able to print much in photog, I have been able to get one picture competely finished and I have taken about 4 rolls now on film. It is from our Vantage Point roll. In this roll, we were suppose to take 4 objects and take 10 images of 3 of the objects, and 6 of the last (on a 36 count roll). The ones my professor liked the most of were the pictures of my beat up practice shoe for dance.
It’s probably really hard to see in this quick snap shot of the photo, But I took this on a cloudy day, with probably a mid shutter speed (around 1/250 or 1/500 of a second) and a low depth of field (probably around 4.0 aperture). This caused the background to blur out a bit to make the shoe really pop. On the enlarger I used the fspot (aperture) 8, which is a middle range of light, for a total exposer of 3 seconds. I dodged, or waved a piece of cardboard around to block the light, the shoelace area in order for that information to come up. I did this instead of lowering the time or aperture anymore so because the rock and front part of the shoe looked perfectly exposed, while that one area looked a bit too dark. I might do one more print, and dodge that area for the entire 3 seconds.
Finally I have completed two projects for digital media. Below is an image from the first project. In this project we had to take 15 items, scan them, and then use them in compositions. Plot twist, we could not make it look like a cut and paste image. We had to use the objects to create a whole new environment. This was incredibly hard for me to do, but I ended up with the three compositions. This class is truly pushing my creativity. The image below used bobby pins, rhinestones, a sheet, a lock, and sweater to create a stormy sea setting.
Let me know what you think of my work in the comments below, or feel free to link me to some of your work. With my club’s competition coming up I will prepare a couple posts about ballroom and competing!
- Painting Continued (picturelinephotography.wordpress.com)
Now I know I have spoken a lot about ballroom and very little about West Coast Swing (WCS), so I will give you a brief run down of what WCS is so you a general idea of what I am talking about. For those of you who don’t know what WCS is, it is a Swing dance, hence the name, that came from Lindy Hop and/or the Jitterbug. East Coast Swing and eventually Jive also were born from these dances, but we won’t go into that dance. WCS, just like all the other swing type dances, has a set of triple steps set in the basic patter. In WCS’s case the pattern goes walk, walk, triple step, triple step (or 1, 2, 3&4, 5&6 for those who are more musically or mathematically inclined). But WCS has something very different from the other partner dances that makes it completely unique, and that is its connection and anchor step. Compared to the Latin dances or the other swing dances, WCS has a very elastic connection. It goes from extension to compression and back again throughout the entire dance. The anchor step is your last triple, or 5&6. This step lets you settle back into the extension of the connection, and allows you to be steady and prepped for what ever is coming next. I will include some links down below so that you can see real WCS in action.
Now, with that being said, there are varying ways that pros go about teaching West Coast, and varying ways that people go about learning West Coast. One way some people learn is by learn a few basic moves, such as pushes, tuck turns, hammer locks, whips, and passes, but mainly learn the technique that goes behind the connection and the anchor step and how you use them to make a flowing dance. Another way people learn how to go about dancing is learn figures, or patterns as we refer to them in the WCS community, and more figures, and very little technique in the beginning. Now there isn’t inheretly wrong with just learning patterns and building up your knowledge base of moves, however WCS is still dancing, it is still an art form, therefore there is still important technique to do said dance properly.
The biggest problem I have, is that, particularly in the Ballroom Dance community, people think they have ballroom technique so they don’t need to bother with learning WCS technique. This makes me want to rip out my hair. Ballroom technique can help you learn the technique for WCS, but it is not the end all and be all of dance technique. The conection is completely different, and there is nothing like the anchor step in ballroom anywhere. It’s kind of like saying, just because you take draw means you can paint. No! Sure drawing helps painting, and sure the ideas of composition change, but dry and wet media react differently with the surface to which you are applying them too. You still need to learn painting techniques if you want to be a good painter.
And there is huge problem with people just wanting to learn patterns and no technique. However, this dance without the proper connection or anchor step is not West Coast Swing. That is what makes this dance different from all the rest. Those two concepts are what disinquishes West Coast from East Coast swing, or from Jive, or from lindy hop.
If you just want to learn this dance for fun, fine! Have fun with it. But don’t come looking to me if you expect me to praise your technique. I have no problems if WCS is just a hobby on the side of ballroom. I know a lot of people do that, but don’t get upset about something we might point out if you ask us for help or arrogant about something you don’t know about.
If you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comment section below!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i_IzBEunOE <– This is a video of pro Participating in a Strictly Competition. Strictly’s are usually with a set partner, but dancing to an “unknown” song, meaning it is all improve or lead follow. There is no set routine, you just kind of go. In this particular instance, the pros decided to mix it up and dance with people who aren’t their normal partners. My favorite couple was Benji and Tatiana. Enjoy!
- Why I Love West Coast Swing (resdc.wordpress.com)
I don’t really have anything to show you this week. I worked a bit on the painting, but I did not make a whole lot of changes to the entire thing. I need to fix the transitions and then maybe before the mid term is due I’ll show you the finished product. Digital media is going slow still, but I hope to finish up the project by Sunday night, so that I can show you guys next week. Photography is great, though nothing quite yet to show. We developed our first role last week and we will be doing contact sheets Monday, and possibly be doing more developing as we have another role due for Monday!
I hope to have more to say next week!