In April, we featured renowned photographer Lee Gumbs on our list of 7 Instagram Accounts You Need to Follow. This month, we were able to talk with Lee about his background, his inspiration, and some of his favorite work. As a professional dancer and photographer, Lee is a unique artist, fusing his skills together to create his own style; reminding us to “just be ourselves.”
How did you get started with dance photography?
I’ve been dancing since I was 8 years old, so falling into dance photography happened pretty naturally! When I got my first camera in high school I would always photograph my friends from my dance studio and as I got older and started dancing professionally, I’d shoot my cast mates from tours (Bad Boys of Ballet and Shaping Sound, etc) when we were working together.
What inspires your photography?
I think the biggest inspiration for my photography is fashion.
How does your aesthetic for fashion spill into your dance photography?
I think being interested in fashion separates my aesthetic for dance photography among the many other dance photographers. When people come to my page I don’t want it to be simply just dance in every shot, I want there to be variety, so I try to post different types of photos as much as I can. That being said, when I shoot dance, I try to be creative and think outside the box and tend to love more awkward poses instead of the traditional dance poses.
Do you have a favorite photo or favorite set you’d like to share?
I think my favorite dance photos are the ones I took of Kirsten Wicklund (pictured throughout this article) who dances with the Vancouver contemporary ballet company Ballet BC. Kirsten and I used to tour together with Bad Boys of Ballet and we already have a trust, so shooting her was super laid back, fun and no pressure (which is the atmosphere where I get my best photos.) She understands her body so well and has the most beautiful facility so the photos were magical.
How do you create trust and comfort with your subjects?
I try to be as warm and nice and down to earth as possible when I’m with a client for the first time (which is 90% of the time.) I want them to feel comfortable because to have a camera in front of you is a little weird for most people.
How do you book your subjects? Can dancers reach out to book photo shoots with you?
Dancers reach out to me through Instagram or my website.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE YOUNG, ASPIRING, PROFESSIONAL DANCERS (OR MODELS) TO KNOW?
Be yourself! It’s a bit off-putting when someone comes in and wants exactly what someone else did, because that’s simply impossible. No two people are going to photograph exactly the same, so be confident in what you have to offer and don’t feel pressure to do something the same as anyone else.
Thank you, Lee!
All photos by Lee Gumbs Photography
Follow Lee on Instagram