December 2017 Featured Dance PhotographerAl Ponce - Al Ponce Photography
Al Ponce – Al Ponce Photography
This month our featured photographer is Al Ponce based out of San Francisco, California. Al is a musician turned photographer. From stadiums to ballerina’s, Al’s got quite the portfolio. Enjoy his interview and check out his website and Instagram pages.
DA: Why did you get into Photography?
Al: I was a musician since I was in 3rd grade, first playing the clarinet and then the saxophone. Music opened a lot of doors and made my college experience that much richer. But as a musician I never felt the freedom or ability to be particularly creative until I delved into photography. Before my senior year of college, I realized that there would be many “once in a lifetime” moments and I wanted to keep a visual record. Digital cameras were a nascent technology at the time and there were no commercially available cell phones with integrated cameras. You either carried a film camera or you simply didn’t take pictures. So, I bought my first “real” SLR and photographed several important moments that year including performing at the Rose Bowl. These are some of my most treasured photos because I was finally able to explore my creative side in a medium that felt natural to me. I was capturing life the way I saw it.
DA: What is your favorite location to shoot?
Al: I travel a lot for my photography and so my favorite location really depends on what I am shooting and where. If it’s college football Stanford Stadium, Levi’s Stadium, and Folsom Field at the University of Colorado in Boulder are amazing venues. If I’m shooting ballet outdoors then you can’t beat San Diego’s weather or beaches. The Joffrey Ballet studios in Chicago are amazing. If I’m shooting ballet closer to home then I’m shooting at the Lines studios, the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, or the Marin Headlands. And nothing quite tops New York City for the sheer number of locations for ballet photography, from city streets, to parks, beaches, and dance studios.
DA: Who inspires you as a photographer?
Al: Other dance photographers and the dancers themselves. I’m a huge fan of work by Jordan Matter and Omar Robles. I study their images to see what made them memorable, how they are composed, what draws the eye. But I’m not them and I don’t want to simply copy their photography. I take what lessons I can draw form their work and apply it to my way of seeing and capturing dance in images. The dancers themselves are a huge inspiration to me. They put countless hours into perfecting their art. There is a grace and movement they carry that makes ballet photography unique.
DA: Do you have a personal favorite shot (or two)?
Al: I have several favorites. I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to one or two.
DA: If you could have the perfect photoshoot…who and where?
Al: Sunset on a beach in San Diego with Ana Sophia Scheller, WanTing Zhao, or Koto Ishihara.
DA: What is one piece of equipment that you could not live without?
Al: My Nikon 70-200mm lens. About 80% of my work is made with this one lens.
DA: Any advice to help dancers relax when having a photoshoot?
Al: Always warm up and never feel like you should rush. Ask the photographer whatever questions come to mind about how the shoot will work and if there are specific poses or looks he or she wants to shoot. Building a basic shoot outline eliminates quite a bit of stress of coming up with ideas “on the spot” the day of the shoot or not having the right outfits or accessories.
DA: How can someone get in touch with you?
Al: Send me a message through Instagram (@alponcephoto). I would say 95% of my business and ballet shoots come through the app. I have an Instagram business account so you can also email me directly through the app otherwise you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
DA: What is the best place to view your work online?