Archive for the ‘Dance’ Category

on changes in life.

Many of my Movement from Within sessions center around the same thing — following our dreams, owning our stories, and changes in life. These themes are all really important, but the one constant, of course, is change.

Change can be a pretty scary thing. Change can also be a really sad thing. But change is also an incredibly beautiful thing.

When I photographed Alyssa two years ago, we were both very different people than we are now. I originally met Alyssa when she was subbing for a dance class I was taking at the time. I immediately noticed in her a passion and love for movement and dance, and I knew she would be perfect for the project. I immediately asked her if she’d like to do a photo shoot with me, and she said yes.

At the time, I was doing these sessions in full force. I had a few lined up, and I had been doing them for about two years then. It was wonderful for me, to explore, discover, and find ways to tell these dancer’s stories, as well as work with them to become the dancer they want to be. If anything not just help them become the dancer they want to be, but maybe even the person they want to be, through one of the things they love the most — which is movement.

Of course, that’s why I called these sessions Movement from Within. Honest movement, I think, comes from the soul, and when you have to look into your soul, often times a lot more will reveal itself.

After photographing Alyssa, I photographed a few more dancers, and then I decided to take a hiatus. It wasn’t a planned hiatus, but I think I had a feeling that I needed to take a step back, and revisit the project again later.

Two years pass and one day, I remember thinking to myself: I think I’m ready to work on this project again.

One thing that I do with the project, is send a letter to the dancer with my thoughts and observations to them. I never did get a chance to share Alyssa’s images with her until now, so I wasn’t sure exactly how to write what I wanted to write. It had been so long, and we were no longer the same people. My observations of her then, may no longer be relevant to her now. But I decided to send a letter with my thoughts from the shoot, and I hoped that she would still be able to glean something from what I had said.

After sending her the letter, she wrote back the next day, detailing to me all the things that had happened in her life since that session, as well as what the session meant to her. If anything, it seemed like the session put forth a catalyst for her and changed her life.

After reading that email, I found myself happy for her, honored that it meant as much as it did to her, and in awe of how much we do change as people. Even myself. I think of who I was then, and who I am now, and I am in awe of the fact of how much I myself have grown as a person.

In fact that is something I tell myself often. I am no longer the same person that I was before. Even yesterday. Even 5 minutes ago! We are always changing, growing, evolving. And that change can come from external forces, but at the same time, it’s how we deal with the change internally that matters. Are we going to resist and complain about our hand in life? Or are we going to make the best of it, and move forward to the life we want?

I think we all want the latter.

Change, I think, is an incredible thing. I know there are a lot of people out there who fear change because with change, we don’t know what to expect. At least when things stay the same, we know how to handle it! Even if it’s not a life that we want. But I think when we embrace the idea of change, and the idea of being uncomfortable with what could happen in the future, growth appears, and beautiful things can blossom.


I am so glad to be sharing these sessions again. I think the wonderful thing about hiatuses and taking a break from a project or something you are working on is the renewed perspective you may have on it, because you were able to step away and come back with fresh eyes. Especially since during that hiatus, I have been able to take more dance classes, train, as well as perform in a dance company for a short while, giving me a new perspective on movement, as well as the project itself. When I looked at these images again after a long break from them, I realized how much I loved photographing dancers this way, and I needed to come back to that and put it out in the world again.

If you’re interested in doing a session, please feel free to email me.

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past dancers: elizabeth amatikristine domingo | shannon leith | kyle filley | mathew paul chounlamontry | melissa sanchez | tiffany kadani | emily pepper


I did not want to be a tree, a flower or a wave. In a dancer’s body, we as audience must see ourselves, not the imitated behavior of everyday actions, not the phenomenon of nature, not exotic creatures from another planet, but something of the miracle that is a human being. – Martha Graham

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Photographing movement & dance is one of my upmost favorite things to do. Watching people speak through their bodies, to tell a story, to express an emotion. There are few things in life that are more beautiful than the gift to express through movement.

Styling by Susan Yee

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encinitas, california

An all film photoshoot worthy of a “goodbye” to California from a dancer who loves the ocean.

Model/Dancer: Tiffany Kadani
Hair/Makeup/Wardrobe Styled by: Susan Yee


This session was the first of a new dance series that I am doing, titled Beauty of a Dancer. I already posted my second session in this series with Tara, and I will be shooting a few more this coming month. Again, it’s a bit different in vein of Movement from Within, as this is much more focused on ballet dancers, with some contemporary movement as well. It is more technically focused of the two dance series, but at the same time, I want the beauty and spirit of a dancer to come through — more than the technique. Whereas Movement from Within does not focus on technique whatsoever — instead, it is the encouragement of free, organic movement that comes from deep within a person.

I always love collaborating with Tiffany & I am so excited to finally be sharing these with you. I absolutely love photographing dancers & I can’t wait to see where this project goes!

Styling: Susan Yee


I sat here for some time, trying to figure out what to write about this session. Not because I had nothing to say, but because I wasn’t sure how to formulate my thoughts into a cohesive manner. I could tell you about what a beautiful dancer Tara is (because she is), or I could tell you about my obsession with ballerinas and pointe shoes (give me a camera and put me in front of a ballerina and I’ll be irrationally happy).

Or I could talk about how these images were a lot of things for me.

Growth, because this was the first time I shot a dance session 90% on film. I learned so much doing this session, about the technique of photographing a dancer like this as well as how I want to approach sessions like this in the future.

And this isn’t like my Movement sessions — this was something else entirely.

This was a small seed, planted in the dirt of an idea, about capturing the beauty of a dancer. I started first with Tiffany’s session (a full blog of which is forthcoming) & Tara’s is my second. When I start projects like this, or have ideas, they usually don’t solidify until I’ve gone through and put myself in the thick of it. Had trials and errors. Experienced and seen what I truly wanted.

To be honest, this idea is still a bit like vapors to me. Capturing the beauty of a dancer? Isn’t that supposedly what photographers are supposed to do anyway? Am I offering anything truly new to the dance photography world? I want to believe I am. Deep down, I know I am.

My voice will solidify as I go, my images will hold meaning and beauty in the way that I want them to. It’ll all come in time. Right now, all I can do is create.

Styling: Susan Yee

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This girl rocks it.

Just three for now.