“Christopher, We love the way it turned out. Thanks for being such a wonderful partner and collaborator.”
– Brian Smith, Chief Marketing Officer at The Joffrey Ballet

Super Storm Sandy Couldn’t Stop This Photo Shoot

When The Joffrey Ballet asked if I was willing to go to Chicago for three days to photograph their dancers for their 2013-2014 season brochure, I was thrilled. Arranging the photo shoot to fit the dancers’ schedules was so tight, there was only one week to make it work for all of us. It just so happened that was the week Hurricane Sandy was rolling into New York City.

The night before Nel, Gracie and I were supposed to fly to Chicago, all the flights were cancelled. There wasn’t any chance of rescheduling the shoot. So we piled our cameras in the car, quickly prepped for the 13-hour drive and hit the road before the rain. I’m so glad we did.

Joffrey Ballet dance photography on Season Brochure 2013-14

Getting to Know the Joffrey Dancers: At Jacob’s Pillow

I worked with the Joffrey dancers in the summer of 2012 at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. The ballet company was staying too far off-campus to shuttle back and forth multiple times per day, so all the dancers had to spend the whole day on the Pillow grounds, even if they weren’t dancing. It was my first summer photographing dancers in my Natural Light Studio, and I spent a lot of time with them outside, chatting, chilling, eating lunch.

Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili of The Joffrey Ballet

I got to know Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili (Temur is a Principal Dancer, Victoria’s husband and also an avid photographer!)


Artistic Director Ashley Wheater is actually using a photo from the Natural Light Studio in the season brochure – a head shot I made of him!

I was flattered that the company told me how much they all loved the images I made of the dress rehearsal at the Pillow and that I saw things in their work that no one had shown them before.

In the Photo Shoot with The Joffrey Ballet

Part of the reason the season brochure photo shoot was so cool was that we did five or six different scenarios – different groups of the dancers and different costumes and creative set-ups. I spent days with Artistic Director Ashley Wheater, who had such a clear vision for the company and for the shoot. He is really such an incredible artist and a really nice person. The photo sessions were hard work but really fun. Just the way I like it.

Click through the gallery below to see the ballet company’s finished brochure:

The Joffrey Ballet’s season begins in September!

Special Thanks

To my favorite collaborator, my wife Nel Shelby for filming me in action while we were in Chicago. And to Ashli Bickford who made the awesome film above for me and Nel Shelby Productions.

And to my friend and fellow dance photographer Whitney Browne who spent 24 hours in the car with me and my family and was a vital part of the shoot, assisting me and helping me make it all happen.

Thank you!

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