When you meet Sebastian Rich you'd never guess he's been a conflict photographer for more than thirty years. His easy relaxed demeanor doesn't match the vitriolic events transpiring in his work. His lack of pretension and humble persona are a delightful surprise considering his accolades and accomplishments. But don't worry. What he lacks in "pretentious artist" characteristics he makes up for in the exciting images he makes.
Recently he's been photographing dance and what I find most intriguing is his self-confessed lack of knowledge on the subject matter. It seems to me that a lot of dance photographers tend to go for those money moments. Pointed feet and straight legs. Usually a beautiful moment where a shape is captured in mid air or swiftly moving across the stage. I have consciously tried to veer away from the typical beautiful moments in dance but rarely share them with anyone for fear of criticism. Or if the viewer is also the subject that they'll be unhappy with the way they look.
But Sebastian does what few new dance photographers can ever do. With his uncanny sensibility to light in a scene and the ability to patiently observe or casually interact with his subjects he manages to make gorgeous images based on his own well developed aesthetic. He's creating gorgeous work regardless of his knowledge of dance.
I find a strange beauty in the juxtaposition of two dancers in low light and a soldier in the desert giving water to a prisoner on his knees. Perhaps it's because when we see this on his promotional material for the Dance on Camera Festival we're confronted with the two very heightened states of reality that couldn't possibly live anywhere together other than in photographs in a book.
To conclude, I got a little inspired and decided to make a collage of three images I took today. They don't highlight the dancer's technique but rather the raw energy trying to make its way out of the body through technique. I chose these moments because they reveal the freedom that only great dancing and solid technique can allow for. Below is Michael Novak in Paul Taylor's Fibers. Please visit Sebastian's website and attend the Dance on Camera Festival discussion with moderators, Liz Wolf and Igal Perry this Saturday February 1st.