ballet dancer brendan saye posing his arms for the camera

Shooting Ballet Portraits with the Alpha 7R V

Daniel Gossmann

“In photography, the most important thing is to capture the right moment,” says advertising and fashion photographer Daniel Gossmann. “You want to capture the feeling of that moment and freeze it in a photo that you can see forever.”

Daniel's powerful sentiment about capturing the perfect moment with such precision led him to use the Sony Alpha 7R V on a recent photoshoot, creating a series of portraits of ballet dancer Brendan Saye.

ballet dancer posing for a portrait with one arm behind his back © Daniel Gossmann | Sony α7R V + FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II | 1/125s @ f/10, ISO 100

“Everything for a ballet dancer is about discipline, and you see the result of that discipline physically on the details of their bodies. The Alpha 7R V was the perfect camera to capture all these fine details and movements when Brendan was dancing, moving, and posing.” says Daniel.

The photographer's job is to recognise the details in a moment that makes the ordinary extraordinary. “When the Alpha 7R V captures the grace of a ballet dancer. Every breath, every gentle step is captured by this camera in astonishing clarity,” says Daniel.

ballet dancer with his arms spread out © Daniel Gossmann | Sony α7R V + FE 50mm f/1.2 GM | 1/125s @ f/9.0, ISO 160

But it isn't just the ability to shoot 10fps at a 61-million-pixel resolution that enables Daniel to do this. The camera has the latest AI processing that takes the autofocus into the future and can recognise subjects and adjust the focus accordingly, for example, as a dancer turns their head away from the camera. This gives Daniel the freedom to create:

Thanks to AI, the autofocus is so perfect that it allows me to focus only on the moment. It is better for communication because it allows me to observe and direct the situation.”
ballet dancer holding his arm up © Daniel Gossmann | Sony α7R V + FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II | 1/125s @ f/9.0, ISO 100

Daniel paired his Sony Alpha 7R V with three lenses to take the ballet portraits - the FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II, FE 50mm f/1.2 GM, and the FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II.

“The autofocus works brilliantly with the large aperture of the 50mm lens. But I must also talk about the latest G Master lenses. I sometimes look at images and think, I must have shot that image on a prime lens, but when I check the data, it is amazing to see that I shot it with the 24-70mm GM II. It’s a brilliant lens.”

ballet dancer poses for a portrait in a studio © Daniel Gossmann | Sony α7R V + FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II | 1/125s @ f/10, ISO 100

The shoot took place in a studio against a grey background. The choice of grey meant that Daniel could use flash with coloured gels to colour the background the burgundy hue you see in the images. You can see the grey background in the behind-the-scenes photos and video Stefan Krenn produced to accompany the shoot.

You will notice in the video that Daniel uses the camera screen to compose the images and sometimes an external monitor if he is shooting up to 8K video. There is a beneficial human element to this that has an impact on the relationship between the photographer and the subject compared to using the viewfinder.

“I use the screen as it is better when talking to the subject. If I look through the viewfinder, the camera is in front of my face. The subject may not hear me as clearly, and they won't see my face. They won't see my eyes.” says Daniel.

hand holding a sony alpha 7rm5 with the screen angled © Stefan Krenn

The screen of the Alpha 7R V also helps as it is articulated in both landscape and portrait orientations, making it easier to shoot portrait images at lower angles.

With demand for images greater than at any point in history, Daniel has little time to work with his subjects, noting that while in the past he may have had a few hours or even a day to work with a subject, now he may have just an hour or two. With every second crucial when working on a shoot, the features of the Alpha 7R V mean he is ready to act when a moment of creative inspiration strikes. And when he has finished shooting, there can still be demands from the client. Again, the Alpha 7R V can help.

ballet dancer posing outside wearing a red cape © Daniel Gossmann | Sony α7R V + FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM II | 1/250s @ f/6.3, ISO 100

“Some people say the resolution is not so important,” says Daniel. “But for me, it's very important because it means I can be flexible. For example, a client may say, 'We want everything in a wide format,' so you shoot that way. Then afterward, they change their mind because a magazine wants to print an image in a portrait format. Then, they may want a close-up detailed crop. Because I have 61 megapixel images and 8k videos, I can create different crops and formats and stay flexible. It is a big benefit that other cameras don't have.”

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Daniel Gossmann

Daniel Gossmann | Austria

"Be focused. Stay hungry. Never forget people who helped you"

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