DoubleExposure profiles dance photographer Erik Tomasson, the resident photographer for the San Francisco ballet. He notes that he generally uses existing lighting and that he tries to capture the dancers in their natural environment during rehearsals or performances.
I have never directed a dancer to do a specific action. Everything I shoot is totally in the moment. I try to respect their work and stay out of the way as much as possible. I have never liked images of dancers when they are set up or even in a studio. To me, the emotion is lost when dancers are shot in a studio and posed and it just feels too contrived for me. Its kind of the same to me as if someone told David Beckham to pose shooting a goal in studio. He may be able to recreate how he would shoot a goal, but the energy of the game would be lost. It’s the same with dancers. There is an energy there that I’m trying to capture that can only be caught when they are in their environment.