We learnt a little about Meghna Bhalla’s subtle art of capturing movement through 7 quick questions:
What attracted you to the niche of dance photography?
Dance is something that I’ve absolutely loved since I was a kid and photography has always been a part of who I am. My family gifted me my first film camera when I was a kid and all I would do was literally, photograph everything and everyone around me and now I have an entire cabinet full of albums filled with developed photographs from back in the day. This was well before the digital camera age hit the market.
Then, as time progressed, I upgraded to a digital camera, around 2009 when I used to learn jazz at The Danceworx Mumbai, Bandra studio and absolutely loved to click pictures of my fellow batchmates warming up and my teachers Jaison Mathew and Akshat Sharma. My love for dance and excitement made Jaison Sir ask me to click pictures of one of the company rehearsals to see what I can do and then well, there has been no looking back since. Presently, I've had the chance to work with some of the most amazing artists in the scene, Rajat Bakshi and Ms. Sheriff, two people who in the last 4 years have transformed my work and artistry and continue to do so. Rajat Bakshi Sir is one person whose vision continues to evolve me everyday!
Being able to mix the two things that I loved so much gave me a rush like nothing else ever has. Movement fascinates me, the patterns created in the process when the energy thrown and the vibe it creates is something that shocks me and leave me in awe every single time even if I’m watching something repeatedly. Being able to capture the essence of movement and the attempt to showcase it in its truest purest form is what attracted me to it.
What kind of lens and gear do you prefer to use while capturing dance?
For me I’ve always been a canon loyalist, I usually work with a Canon 5D Mark 3 ( however, an upgrade is on its way, haha) with a wide angle lens, usually I work with a canon 16 - 35mm f 2.8 or a 24 - 105mm f4 sometimes throw in a 50mm 1.8 along side my canon for the past few months I also always have my go pro hero 6 with me to add that extra edge, I feel the company and cameras have a lot to offer to capture movement.
Do you like shooting moving targets or stand stills more?
I love capturing dancers in movement, it's a welcome challenge and pushes for me to document subjects that are in constant movement, its a rush.
Do you prefer indoor or outdoor shoots? What is it that you like more about them ?
In all honesty, I cannot possibly pick one over the other. I love both equally. When it comes to an outdoor set up, it teaches you to work fast and make the most of what you have which offers you a different perspective with regards to using your environment and surroundings in the best way possible and to make it compliment and enhance the dancer because a dance shoot is first about the showcasing the dancer and their absolute best capability. I've been a BMM student back and for us ‘ultimate jugaad’ is one thing that is a constant moto.
Alternately a studio set up is beautiful because you have control over a lot of things in terms of space and lighting which helps you experiment in a different way. I believe a bit of both is what pushes you to better yourself, at least it does for me.
What do you enjoy the most about working with dancers?
Their conviction, free spirit and fearlessness at attempting something that is absolutely insane!
The best thing about working with them is once they reach the point of just being the most honest version of themselves in front of the camera and give you that trust and let go, that's when the rush of capturing them kicks in because in that exact moment every moment that comes through comes from within, their energy and their soul in many ways is being projected through their physical body and movement, capturing that and the essence and vibe of it is what makes working with a dancer the absolute best experience ever,
Also, just how kickass dancers are in general!
What is the biggest challenge you face while capturing dance photographs?
For me every shoot is equally challenging, every dancer is different, even when working with the same dancer, their body is constantly changing. The first half an hour of any shoot goes into understanding where the body has reached, what journey the dancer is on, the light set up happens based on that and then the thought for framing is developed based. Another half an hour then goes in making them just open up and embrace it and then there's no looking back from there. Sometimes dancers are too hard on themselves and incredibly self critical so their nervousness is sometimes a challenge to break past, to make them see how beautiful and talented they are, so photographing them and during the course or two showing them what it is looking like, helps create that positive energy and excitement from their end when they see how amazing they are, makes them go all out.
Can you describe a typical “shoot” with a dancer or company?
This is practically impossible for me to answer because literally every shoot is so different and unpredictable in the way it is planned and then the way it unfolds every single time. It's all a part of process and happens in real time in a way that even for me I experience new things every single time, so there is nothing like a typical shoot because this is so different and so vast and over the course of the last 9 and a half years of being around these dancers and shooting, it's insane how every shoot, from the days I would randomly clicking my batchmates, to present day when I walk in to work with these amazing artists, every shoot has been so different from another!
For all dancers who want to build their portfolios,or just want to try something new like a dance photograph series by collaborating with photographers and who wish to market their art by putting it out there, must get in touch with the right people. We, at The Dance Bible, help you do that by providing you with all necessary information that you might need.
So, here's how you can contact Meghna if you're interested in working with her; open instagram, follow her @meghnabhalla and drop her a direct message. You can also open your mailing website, log in, compose a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and press send. Voila! You'll receive a response as soon as possible.
For photographers who wish to share their thoughts and experiences in the niche of dance photography, please contact us.
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