We Simplify The Technical!

Famed ballet photographer Gene Schiavone joins us to talk about ballet, theater and dance photography.

Gene really goes into detail on equipment, settings, obstacles, where to stand and more when photographing with stage lighting.

Gene Schiavone Ballet


Dance and Ballet Photography

Episode 109 with Gene Schiavone

About Gene

  • He started photographing the 2nd Company of ABT (American Ballet Theater) as a volunteer 15 years ago.
  • Gene traveled with and photographed the dancers and shows for 2 years and learned stage lighting photography techniques.
  • He was then invited to photograph the main company – a very big honor.
  • Gene is now contracted (by performance) with several ballet companies. He is usually booked 6 months in advance.
  • His photographs have been published in many different magazines and publications.

Use of Images

  • Images are licensed and used by the company for marketing and promotion.
  • The company has control of all images – every image has to be approved by the company.
  • The contract is renegotiated if the images are to be used for other sales (for items such as T-shirts or mugs).

“The hard part is getting your photographs to look different from everyone else’s.”

Shooting the Stage

  • He usually photographs one dress rehearsal and 2 performances.
  • Always use a tripod and a gimbal head. (Favorite is Manfrotto)
  • Able to set up tripod at the back of the Orchestra – has to shoot through glass.
  • Sometimes has to set up tripod in last row of seats for a performance.
  • Uses a Blimp – an insulated sleeve to fit over the camera and lens that acts as a ‘muzzle’ to dampen any mechanical noise.
  • Gear of choice: Nikon D850 – need to have have ISO capability and INSTANT shutter release.

70-200mm lens or 200-400mm for tight shots

  • Opening Settings: Auto ISO, f/2.8, 1/250s, underexpose by 2/3 stop

Uses center-weighted focus.

“Shoot the moment.”

Other Types of Stage Shots

  • Rockettes – the stage is bright, the lighting is much different than a ballet. The dancers are also arranged in a long line, different from the small groups of ballet dancers on stage.
  • Opera – the actors/singers move much slower than dancers. The key images here are with the mouth open singing and a good expression – which is very difficult.
  • Orchestra – there is not much movement, the key for these images is getting the conductor in the right position.

Finding Gene

Website – www.geneschiavone.com

Facebook – Gene Sciavone

Instagram – @SchiavoneGene







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Gene Schiavone Ballet Point Dress
Gene Schiavone Ballet Dancers Group
Gene Schiavone black and white ballet dancer

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