Following the leading foreign photographers who shoot ballet with masterly skill, let's get acquainted with the Russian experts in ballet photography. Five names - five recognizable styles!
Darian Volkova: world ballet companies and high-profile photo projects
Before picking up a professional camera, Darian did ballet herself. Today, she is the official project photographer with the Mariinsky Theater, a laureate of international ballet photography competitions and a professional who has worked in 20 countries. Prima ballerinas and soloists of the world major ballet companies looked into her lens; the photographer's website features galleries of captured moments from the field of ballet. For example, here you can see the work of Cuban artists in a series of reportage photographs from the Fernando Alonso National Ballet School or admire the geometry in the Fairytales of St. Petersburg Lobbies series, where ballerinas find themselves in unusual but very poetic spaces. Her work can be found in museums and private collections around the globe. Moreover, Volkova's pictures were published by the largest periodicals, such as The Washington Post, ELLE, Dance Spirit, etc.
Mark Olich: painting effect and special love for rehearsals
A master of photography with 20 years of experience, he began his career in ballet as a set designer with the Mariinsky Theater. He took his first pictures of the rehearsals and training of artists there. The theatrical backstage in Olich’s shots acquires special expressiveness. The photographer dedicated the projects "Theatrical Performances" and "In the Wings" to the topic. Ballet dancers in his photographs often look like they are painted: the master manages to create the effect of a canvas on a picture. In the reportage photos by Olich, hard work and commitment can be seen behind the honed perfect poses of professionals.
The photographer often shoots artists from above: this angle may be called one of the distinctive features of his signature style. This is an unusual viewpoint, spectators never find themselves in, which makes it even more interesting to examine these works. In some photographs, a group of ballerinas line up in a perfect geometric shape: dancers in light outfits contrast with the dark background, like pieces of a complex kaleidoscope pattern.
Mark Olich maintains an Instagram page, where he shares not only photos of professional artists, but also bright and dynamic pictures of his daughter, who is studying at the Vaganova Ballet Academy.
Alexander Yakovlev: dynamic monochrome and talc
Alexander Yakovlev didn’t realize what was his creative vocation right away: he began his professional career in the field of law. He never became a lawyer or an attorney - but as a photographer he’s already managed to work with artists of the Bolshoi Theater, the Moscow State Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater, Boris Eifman Dance Theater and other companies both in this country and abroad.
In his pictures, ballet dancers or athletes look like epic celestials with perfect shapes and proportions. One of the signature techniques used by the photographer is shooting with white talcum powder, enveloping the character while moving. Grace and dynamics - that's what unites all the photos by Yakovlev. Ballet dancers in his shots often take poses literally defying the laws of gravity. Besides, the master is a fan of monochrome, which adds graphic quality and depth to his works.
Natalia Voronova: photo masterpieces for two theater capitals
This photographer's professional relationship with ballet began with an international commission. The editor of a Swiss magazine asked Natalia to make a reportage about Russian ballet. So, she dove into theatrical photography and stayed for a long time. The photographer made her first pictures at the Mariinsky Theater and later worked with leading ballet and opera companies from different countries.
Natalia Voronova is the author of the Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema photo project, it was she who created the posters for the performances that ballet connoisseurs could’ve seen on the big screens. Each of these shots looks minimalistic and stylish: the artists are captured on a black background in the most expressive pas symbolizing the classical productions.
The photographer defines her creative method as follows:
On Natalia Voronova’s Instagram account, you can admire the captured moments from ballet performances and rehearsals of famous theater artists. She works equally effectively with stage and studio lighting, monochrome and color. And her pictures of the two theatrical capitals of Russia - Moscow and St. Petersburg - are extremely poetic. The picture of the ballerina Maria Yakovleva against St. Isaac's Cathedral or the photo of Natalia herself on stage of the Bolshoi Theater alone say a lot!
Mikhail Logvinov: well-deserved recognition from the masters
The photographer confessed one day that ballet occupies about 95% of all his work. For example, Logvinov shot 17 productions of the ballet Romeo and Juliet, and how many other photo projects and reportages, collaborations with various theater companies and experiments there have been!
Before becoming a ballet photographer, Logvinov received an economic education at the Moscow Institute of the National Economy. The master admits that he came to ballet through music: first he graduated from a music school, then got interested in fine arts, and only after that in ballet. He started a career in photography when he was over 40 years old. Here is what Mikhail said about his choice:
Mikhail Logvinov first shot a ballet production in 1978 and over the following decades gained recognition not only from connoisseurs and ballet professionals around the world. Logvinov's pictures were appreciated by Maya Plisetskaya, Roland Petit, Yuri Grigorovich and other masters. The photographer is especially great at the reportage genre: you can admire his work not only at exhibitions and in art periodicals, but also on the Internet.