Interview with Lorna Sim, photographer

Lorna Sim is a Canberra-based photographer. She creates interesting art, marketing and documentary photos for performing artists, and especially loves working with dance. She regularly works with the Street Theatre, Photoaccess, local magazines, and QL2 Dance. We interviewed her over the Easter weekend about her history, inspiration, and experiences working on the marketing image for Me Right Now.

I started photographing with QL2 Dance in 2009, when graphic designer Elissa Northrop from Spinebill asked me to shoot for the poster image for Quantum Leap at the Playhouse, “Select Option”. I had been working with the dancer in the poster, Michelle Norris, and Elissa saw the photos of our collaboration, and felt that I could bring something to the creative shoots for QL2’s marketing images.

When I first got into photographing for dance, I didn’t understand dance very well. I just loved the fact that it was a way to stop a moment in time, to see the movement captured that is so fleeting when it is performed. Catching that moment really drives my passion for photographing dance. At first, it was challenging to shoot the dancers and pick the peak point in the move to capture as a still frame, and I realised that with a bit of practice, and relying more on my instincts I could catch the moment that I can’t see in real life. I am always delighted and surprised by what I manage to catch on the camera at the end of a shoot with QL2 dancers as it can’t always be seen with the naked eye.

The concept for the “Me Right Now” shoot, had been councing around my head for a while. I have been very inspired by a Japanese artist, Natsumi Hayashi who makes a series of photos capturing herself “levitating” as self-portraits, and I been experimenting on a series of my own “levitations” around Canberra with my niece and her friend. I had showed them Gary, the General Manager of QL2 Dance when I finished the series. Gary liked the idea, and asked if QL2 could use it for the poster image of Me Right Now. Furthermore, Ruth, the Artistic Director of QL2 Dance, and I both liked the idea of shooting with the dancers outside of the studio setting. It actually took 2 sessions with the dancers to nail the final image. We didn’t pick the right locations for the first shoot, and on the second shoot we ended up at the School of Art which is the background in the final image.

A typical creative shoot with QL2 starts with a conversation. I talk with Gary and Ruth about the brief, what they want, and what the show is going to be about. Sometimes there will be inspiration images, and we discuss how to translate those images into our own vocabulary and for our own creative purposes. Once we are in the studio or on location, Ruth will let me know what costumes the dancers will be in, and from there I work the lighting and exposures levels. Ruth and the dancers contribute to the choreography of the shoot, and I will do a few test shots. After the first few shots have been captured, we are able to check how the pictures are turning out. I am then able to give feedback to Ruth and the dancers about the positioning of the dancers, what movements or timing is and isn’t working. We then try a slightly different arrangements based on what the camera is seeing. Once we are happy with one movement idea, we repeat the process until we have the next idea satisfactorily captured. After the shoot, I do some basic post-processing and hand the images to the graphic designer, Elissa to work on as for final poster, flier and program.

Thanks to Lorna Sim for the images, and the interview. Interview by Sarah Kaur, 2012.

1 thought on “Interview with Lorna Sim, photographer

  1. Pingback: Still Moves with Lorna Sim: doohickies & playing with light | QL2 Dance, in Canberra Australia.

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