A few months ago I did a internet search on "dallas dance." The reason being, I wanted to shot some street/hip hop dancers. What I found was the World of Dance tour. This was exactly what I was looking for. The World of Dance Tour, is the biggest urban dance competition internationally. The tour features street dancing and choreography from various age groups. The timing was perfect because in about a month, the tour was coming to Dallas. But I didn't want to shoot the event from the crowd, but right next to the stage, and that would require a press or stage pass.
I searched for contacts on the WOD website and sent an email requesting a press pass for the event. I got a response that my inquiry would be forwarded to the media manager. I got a reply from the media manager, Jon, the same day approving the media pass as long as they could use the images for social media. Of course I agreed. For those of you looking to get access to photography an event, here's the email I sent requesting a press pass:
My name is Fitz Crittle and I’m a local event and portrait
photographer here in the Dallas area. This email is in regards to
the WOD Tour that’s coming to Dallas on April 26th. I’m a fan of
urban dance styles and I would love the opportunity to photograph
the event. I would appreciate any consideration on extending me a
press pass for the event. In exchange I’ll make the images available
for use by WOD.
I apologize if you’re not the right contact. If that’s the case,
please forward the correct contact to send this request to.
Thanks for you time and consideration, if you have any questions
please let me know.
Fitz Crittle Photography
I was given a contact from WOD to check-in with once I got to the venue, Gilley's Dallas. I met the contact and he gave me a run down of the event and said I can basically shoot whatever I want. He then gave me a tour of the venue and where I can shot the dancers on stage. There was an area of about 15 feet next to the stage that was reserved for two photographers (including me) and the guy capturing video. There was also a room behind the stage where there were free style dance battles and anyone could participate. There was a DJ and a human circle and someone dancing in the middle, once they finished, someone else would go next. To the left of the stage was one of the major sponsors Paul Mitchell, in fact the tour is called World of Dance presented by Paul Mitchell. Paul Mitchell produces hair care products, there were hair stylist onsite, so that if you wanted to, you could get your hair did. There were several vendors there, mostly selling urban gear. I think every culture was represented at this event, that's what made it so cool. I under estimated how popular urban dance has become. It's evident it's become a sub-culture of hip hop.
Shooting the Event
OMG, this was the most physically challenging event I've ever shot. I was sore for days. I'll get to that in a minute. There was going to be some serious challenges shooting dancers. You've got low light and fast moving objects. I know then I was going to have to push my ISO to the limit. The great thing about the free style dance room, I could get some practice shots. For the gear heads, I was shooing with a Nikon D610 camera and the lens was the Tamron 24-70 F/2.8. I took a few shots and found that in order to freeze the action, I needed around 1/500th of a second. Because I had access to the stage, I actually went on stage to set a custom white balance. This is when I noticed the stage was not evenly lit, this meant I couldn't set the ISO unless I shot in one area. I decided that getting the shot was more important than noise, so I used the Auto ISO feature and set a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 and maximum ISO to the highest setting. I kept the aperture of 2.8.
I stand about 6'5" and the stage was about 3 feet high. This meant I was going to have to kneel during the performances. Now I'm kicking myself, because I started to buy some gel filled knee pads, but didn't - man did I regret that. This was about a 4 hour event, about half way though, my knees where raw and my legs were screaming. Near the end it, I got the point where I would take a few shots and sit down, I couldn't kneel for the entire performance any longer. A few times I just pointed my camera and shot blindly, that didn't work very well. This was all my choice, I didn't have to shoot "every" performance. The guy shooting video only shot about 1/3 of the acts. But I decided to shoot every performance and I'm glad I did.
This was a great experience, I meet some really cool people. The next WOD will be in Houston and I plan on shooting that event as well, this time I'll have those gel knee pads or a chair. Check out the World of Dance YouTube Channel to see the performances. Below are some of the shots from the event, you can see more on my Flickr page where I've created a gallery - enjoy.