I had the pleasure to work with some amazing Atlanta aerial silk artists at The Space and witnessed some very impressive creative art. Admittedly, I honestly didn’t know much about aerial silk art other than it looked like the sort of thing you would see at Cirque du Soleil, so I’ll give you a little background information that I learned.
Aerial arts, also known as aerial fabric, tissue, or ribbon, is a style of dance that incorporates the use of hanging apparatuses. The silks themselves can hold over 2,000 lbs of dynamic weight, while the rigging can often hold over 10,000 lbs. Aerial silks allows you to wrap your body to hold you 20+ feet off the ground, fall from the air, hold you from your ankles, etc. It is a beautiful, but risky art form that should always be worked on with professionals to ensure safety. I hung from one of the rings about five feet off the ground like a kid on the money bars at the park, but definitely had no skill to do much else, so I left it to the professionals.
In setting up, we arrived after the gym was closed and moved many of the silks and apparatuses around until we had them in just the right places for the shoot. This, in itself, was a lot of time intensive work. Dan and I had to roll around giant scaffolding while one of the aerial artists would unhook the apparatuses, lower it down on a rope, and then repeat for the rest. Then we covered a massive part of the floor in basically a giant black trash bag to catch all of the powder and attempt to keep the gym as clean as possible. Much easier said than done when it comes to chalk. It’s almost as annoying as glitter.
I really wanted to create a more edgy low key vibe to the photos, so we decided to backlight the artists to capture more of the powder swishing through the air and killed all the gym lights. Basically other than a small spot light, the artists were doing everything in the dark. The original idea was to also photograph everything in black and white, once I saw the color, I really loved both!
Once everything was in place, we started with the first attempt. One of the artists would cover themselves in chalk, get into position, then we would add more chalk. That in itself was really difficult to do. Then we would shoot, shoot, shoot, as she made her decent. It was a lot of trial and error to get the right tricks, right amount of powder in the right places, and capture everything. The more we did it though, the better we all got at figuring out the right formula.
A big thanks to The Space for allowing us to make a mess, Corrina and the other amazing artists for helping put it all together and doing what they do, and Dan the man for assisting with everything.
My name is Matt Druin and I’m an Atlanta portrait photographer.
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