Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nutcracker Ballet Photographer {& Ballerina} Liza Voll

Did you enjoy the beautiful images of The Nutcracker Ballet Party, as captured by Liza Voll?

Would you like to learn how to capture images like those for your next event? Read on, as Liza grants us an exclusive interview and shares some FABULOUS tips and tricks!!

{Question} When did your passion for photography begin, and at what point did you decide to turn it into a career?

{Answer} I always remember having a camera, especially at summer camp back when it was just a Kodak yellow-cardboard disposable. I’d return from the summer with at least six or seven full cameras after only a few weeks. In high school I took a b/w film photography class and learned more about the technical side of how a camera works, and did my own printing in the darkroom. That’s when I realized how photographs could make quotidian objects look like ‘art’. After receiving a digital SLR for graduation I was able to take a lot more photographs and experiment with dance photography. The instant feedback of digital was a very powerful learning tool.

I photographed a lot of my friends on stage and after witnessing how excited they got when I captured a beautiful image of them, I realized that photography could not only be a way to create art, but also a way of connecting with people and bringing more joy to their lives by preserving special moments. I decided right after graduating from university that I would love to have my own business and continue to pursue this interest, and I would figure out a way to make it work as a career.

{Question} How would you describe your personal style with it comes to photography?

{Answer} I try to keep my photos fairly minimalist and to the point, while creating an overall mood and feeling. Thus my style is accessible, clean, and emotional all at once.

{Question} Is there something you particularly love to photograph? If so, why?

{Answer} I love photographing dancers because they can express such a range of things with their bodies. Emotion, athleticism, beauty –there can be so much content in a gesture and it’s exciting to try to capture that successfully in a two-dimensional medium.

{Question} You photograph a lot of ballet dancers and performances. Do you have a personal background in dance? If so, please share!

{Answer} I trained in ballet from a very young age through high school, where I danced and performed in a youth ballet company and attended pre-professional intensive programs in the summer. Rather than pursuing a career in dance, I attended Tufts University, where I found a wonderful dance company to continue my love of performing alongside my academic studies.

 I’ve recently expanded my own dance training to include more contemporary classes with Urbanity Dance in Boston, which build off of a ballet technique but explore different shapes, rhythms and styles. I’ve never been one to hold back my emotions on stage, so taking their classes has been a wonderful creative outlet.

{Question} How was it photographing the Nutcracker Ballet Party shoot? Any favorite shots of yours?

{Answer} So fun! I would love to be 8 years old and have a Nutcracker party too. The sweet mice are beyond adorable!

{Question} The images you captured of the Nutcracker Ballet Party were stunning...any recommendations to parents at home with good equipment, on how to capture good shots of their children's parties? Suggestions for shutter speed, lighting, basic or complex...we love to hear it from a professional!

{Answer} Thanks! I’m a big fan of using natural light, which is only possible if you have a camera where you can use a high ISO, and manually change the other settings.

When photographing moving objects, the slowest shutter speed you can usually use without having those objects blur is 1/125.

If they’re still, however, and you have a tripod, a slower shutter speed of 1/80, 1/60 is possible. The other factor is your aperture (or F-stop), which you’ll want as wide open as possible.

 I photographed the images for the Nutcracker Ballet Party at 1/100 and F/1.8 in natural light coming in through the dining room window. If the event is at night and you do need to use a flash, it helps to point it towards the ceiling and bounce the light off of that (provided the ceiling isn’t sky high of course!) to avoid the deer-in-headlights effect.

{Question} Do you travel for our clients who may be interested in having you photograph their event? If so, how should they best contact you?

{Answer} Of course! When shooting an event, it’s ideal to check out the location and become familiar with the schedule prior to when the guests arrive, as well as sit down with the event host and planner to discuss what types of shots they’d like to have. That said, it’s best to contact me at least a month prior to the event to allow time to make travel plans and talk through what the photography needs are. Please email or call 802.373.0559 with the details of your request.

{Question} Let's get to know you a bit!


Favorite Holiday Dessert: I love dark chocolate, and I’ve recently discovered salted caramels. The combination of the two would be divine.

Favorite Color Combination: Varying shades of blue always catch my eye, and I love the combination of seafoam with a crisp white, or for winter a deep navy or sapphire blue with grey can look both warm and elegant.
Favorite Flower: Bold magenta or white orchids.

Favorite Season:Can I pick them all? Having grown up in Vermont I have an appreciation for the activities that each season brings –at the moment I can’t wait for the snow to pile up deep enough for skiing.

Top 3 places to shop online: Ann Taylor Loft, B&H Photo Video,

Top 3 places to shop {brick & mortar}: Farmers markets or Trader Joe’s, Small Pleasures jewelry on Newbury Street, and Formaggio Kitchen.

{Question} What is one interesting thing about you that we may not learn from your website or blog?

{Answer} I grow my own vegetables.

{Question} Any advice you have to offer those taking portraits of their children for the holidays?

{Answer} I like candid photos of children the best, when they’re really involved in whatever activity they’re doing –such as unwrapping a present, playing with a new toy, or decorating holiday cookies. Invest in a lens or camera that can take photos in low lighting without a flash and photograph your children when they’re not aware that you’re clicking away.

With this approach you’ll have a better chance of capturing a range of emotions rather than just the expected toothy grin you get when everyone is posed and expecting a flash to go off. Most importantly, however, is just to make sure you have your camera out so you don’t miss those special moments.

Thank you Liza, for allowing us to learn more about you, get your GREAT advice, and providing us with the most spectacular Nutcracker Suite Ballet Party photos we ever could have dreamed of!

Find Liza here, on her website here, or blog here.


the candy tree said...

Thank you for another lovely, inspiring post! Such beautiful photography! As a (very) amatuer photographer myself, it is an amzing gift to get tips from a professional, thank you Liza for sharing! x

chateaudelille said...

Once you get into blogging you really want to learn about photography so that was a great post. Fiona