Sweet 16

Sweet 16s are such a fascinating event for me. I never saw things like this when I was growing up, back in Texas. The girls have these fabulous gowns, fancier than many wedding dresses I’ve seen. It is a very special night. Three of the girls got new cars as a congratulations present.

GraceWe set up for photographs in a hallway next to the ballroom (not many places for photographers at this venue which we were able to get by a vancouver realtor). We shot the girls and their fathers and escorts before the actual event, and then families afterwards. The problem is, with our two backdrops and four lights, we took up the entire hallway. To get from the staging area (before the presentation) to the ladies room, you needed to pass through our set up area.

Grace was very apologetic, and held up her dress as she hurried by. We didn’t mind; but she apologized anyway. Her smile was both mischeivous and joyous, and I couldn’t resist reaching over to my camera and pressing the shutter. I think I got a great “from the hip” shot.

Congratulations, Grace, and the same to all the other girls.

Be sure to click on the image to see it larger.

The End of Dance Week


Dance schools are a lot of work.

We spend an entire week at each dance school we photograph, bringing a very large part of our studio with us.

The ages range from toddler to teen, with the oldest students graduating high school. This means a lot of up and down, bending over and kneeling, squatting and standing tall.

My back, it is feeling the burn.

The little girls in tap shoes are the worst. I like watching tap. But dozens of screaming little girls in tap shoes running and playing on wooden floors in an echoing dance studio, I could do without.

The poses are mostly arranged by the teachers, with minor tweaking and suggestions by us. Sometimes it’s pretty fast-paced; others we get a little frustrated at the slow teachers backing up the schedule.

But at the end of the night, when things are winding down, I can slow down a little. I can experiment a little.

I can take the time to fine-tune a pose, or try something completely different than a typical dancer’s pose. Something that will make the dancer and the mother look at the preview picture and say “wow”.

And that makes it all worth it.


IMG_0652R Last night was prom night. Five schools in the area had their proms on the same night, and we were busy from 2 until about 8. Lots of beautiful dresses, lots of matching tuxes, and a few “formal sneakers”.

I really like long, flowing dresses, and if I have time, I usually try to talk someone into doing a spin. Most of the girls are generally happy to oblige.

Having time to play makes the long prom sessions go a little quicker.

Say Cheese!

Berardi,Sarah  CHS-2647bw Last week, we shot Dance School. This image is not from that session.

Seven days of hundreds of little girls in tap shoes, tap tap tapping me into submission.

Seven days of networking and Wi-Fi problems.

Seven days of long, long hours.

Seven days of mayhem.

I do enjoy it. I enjoy coming up with new poses, and trying to get the difficult action shots. The people are nice, the owner of the dance studio is wonderful, and the smiles and squeals of the girls seeing their images is well worth it.

But I have to say I’m a little tired of the fake smiles caused by all the people saying: “Say cheese! Smile for the camera! Show your teeth! Saaaay, Pizza!”

Yes, I know some of the kids need this prompting. But sometimes, you just gotta shoot the photo without a smile.

Yes, it was fun. But shots like this are what I really love.