Structuring Salsa Silhouettes

Salsa dancers at The Biltmore Hotel, Miami
All images: Salsa dancers at the Biltmore Hotel, Miami

I’ve started processing some of the images from my recent trip to Miami. I took these before interviewing the people concerned, and will share more about them in future posts.

I thought I’d post these three images because of a conversation with a friend. I thought I’d post here what I wanted to show him, that sometimes the composition can be improved with a judicious amount of post processing in a way that would not be possible any other way.

The top shot is my final image. I knew what I wanted to do with it at the time of taking the photo. Because I knew I would want to play with the image I was careful to shoot the image slightly darker than in real life and as a raw file. By doing this I had far more to play with than had I done so with a jpeg.

Salsa dancers at The Biltmore Hotel, Miami, interim image

This second image is an interim stage, showing how it was before I used Photoshop to extend the window. The left edge of the window interferes with the composition making it weaker.

silhouette of single dancer at the Biltmore Hotel, Miami

Finally my friend asked why I didn’t concentrate on the dancer herself. I’ve edited this image very roughly as it’s for comparison and not otherwise useful to me. However you can see from this that the story is very different. Because there is no context it’s difficult to know what the story is. She has no partner so there is no way anyone would know she was dancing salsa, and the absence of negative space makes the composition itself weaker.

There’s a place for such images of course. He said it was almost James Bond – like in the impression it gives. However documentary dance photography is about showing the dance in context, so that those interested can work out what the dance is and the story of the image.

There will be more on the salsa dancers themselves and the other things I covered in Miami in future posts.