Dancing in Frozen Time: Howard Schatz’s Unique Lens on Movement

Howard Schatz captures the ephemeral magic of movement in a delicate interplay between dance and photography. Seamlessly blending the expressive fluidity of dance with the exactness of his lens, he uses ambient light and rear-synch strobe to illuminate moments often missed by the naked eye. Hear from Schatz as he shares his distinct approach to framing the dance form in his Graphis Photography 2023 Gold Award-winning images: “Dance Study 1441 Victoria Sames” and “Dance Study #1455 Casey Howes.”

By: Howard Schatz

Dance is movement, depth, and sound. Photography of dance is frozen still, flat, and silent. Photography can not compete with the magnificent art form that is dance. How to bring dance to life in a photograph? Tough. This image comes close, perhaps. Using ambient light and rear-synch strobe, along with a graphically designed unitard on a beautiful dancer, I attempt to reveal the motion from one gesture to another. 

I have also set out to challenge myself to create images of dance that I have not seen before: images that surprise me, are unique, perhaps other-worldly, and seem to come from a different space and time.

There are tens of thousands of well-done photographs of dancers anywhere you look: beautiful, magnificently posed, creatively lit, often with clever backgrounds or in an unusual environment. There are many really wonderfully skilled and talented dancers working with photographers who know how to light and direct. One does require a very fine dancer to make a very fine image.

The photographs of Howard Schatz are exhibited in museums and photography galleries internationally and are included in innumerable private collections. He has received international acclaim for his work and has won virtually every award in his field, including numerous “Photographer of the Year” awards and gold medals in the most prestigious competitions. His 23rd book, PAIRS, has just been published.

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Author: Graphis