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I Have Been Adopted by Dancing Girls
Posted By: Mike Cash, 11-17-2007, 05:31 AM

My wandering into the performance of the traditional Japanese dance troupe has turned into far more than just a one-off photo shoot. A week or so after the performance, I delivered some index sheets and a few A4 prints to the home of the teacher, whose sister received them in the teacher's absence.

Apparently, the photos caused quite a stir. They normally hire a local pro to do both still and video of their annual recitals. For whatever reason, this year they found themselves without one. Entirely by chance, into the void waddled yours truly.

The teacher called me up and very excitedly thanked me for the photos, and told me that the various kids and parents want prints. I had mentioned to the sister that I would like the chance to shoot their practices and other performances, and the teacher was eager to take me up on it. So today I met them at a local hospital where they put on a show for a crowd whose average age must have been somewhere around 80. At the hospital I was introduced as "one of the group" and afterwards accompanied the teacher and some students/parents back to their practice room. We spent about three hours gabbing, and I got to watch (and shoot) as the teacher held a lesson for two of the students.

I don't have the words to express the enthusiasm and appreciation they all showed to me. One of the mothers pointed out that for her the photos are all the more valuable because the mothers had to be on the kimono fast-change pit crew in the rear and really didn't get to see their kids perform. I had to tell them that not only was this the first time anyone had shown that kind of appreciation for a photo, they were also the first people I had ever shot who asked me to shoot them again.

I wondered at the praise being heaped upon me....until I had a chance to look through an album and see photos shot by a "pro" they had hired before. I know full well I'm not so hot and that I still have tons to learn and polish up on....but I can without immodesty say they ought to have asked for their money back from that guy.

Anyway, I'm one of the gang now. I'll be getting a kewl staff t-shirt to wear to events (as soon as they locate a tent maker and find my size), and I'm invited to a barbecue next Sunday. Even better, I get willing and appreciative models to practice shooting.

Another shot from the recital, which seems to have been a big hit among the parents:


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11-17-2007, 05:51 AM   #2
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WTG Mike! Yea and Hooray and all that! I've always been an admirer of your work and I'm glad you're getting a chance to shoot from a different venue than your truck! Good luck and keep up the good work, and if you can, post some more shots.

NaCl(couldn't happen to a nicer guy)H2O
11-17-2007, 06:27 AM   #3
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Wow, Mike. Good story.

And your pics are as good as they would have gotten with anyone else.
11-17-2007, 06:34 AM   #4
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Great job, Mike. Please post some more, I can see why they wanted you to continue.

11-17-2007, 06:47 AM   #5
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Congrats Mike! Now that we are all jealous of you in so many ways you'll have to share your secrets with us. Have fun with this and you'll do an amazing job!
11-17-2007, 07:48 AM   #6
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So the dance troupe groupie landed a job!

Congratulations Mike! I am sure your enthusiasm for their hobby has convinced them you are as sincere towards your own.

Plus, you take fantastic pictures - I am sure that had something to do with it.
11-17-2007, 08:02 AM   #7
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That's great to hear Mike. In following your work I can say in all honesty you do a great job and most of the work you do is on a pro level. I would say this troop found a great photographer and you found appreciation.
congrats and please post more of your work.
11-17-2007, 08:34 AM   #8
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That is totaly stinkin' awesome! Thank you so much for sharing this. I too have always enjoyed your photos. Congratulations and a job well done.

11-17-2007, 08:35 AM   #9
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Good things happen tp good people for good reasons. Congrats on the gig and love the photos !
11-17-2007, 08:57 AM   #10
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Good on ya Mike. I guess its not only us who can recognise class.
Good luck pal. Oh, BTW, what do the wife and daughter say now!
11-17-2007, 10:20 AM   #11
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Cool Mike,
Congrats.

Trust me on this one, your better with the camera than you could possibly know.
11-17-2007, 01:12 PM   #12
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MIKE THAT IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good for you. You get to shoot and make a few bucks. Yea you are a pro now hopw you will still share your work with us little people.
11-17-2007, 04:22 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone for your kind words and for sharing in my thrill.


I am managed to skip "groupie" status and go straight to "roadie". There is no money involved in this and I wouldn't accept it if it were offered. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. They get pictures for nothing. I get the chance to practice with cooperative and appreciative models, a space we can use as an impromptu studio, the chance to go out and enjoy some activities with a bunch of nice people spreading smiles to others. It may in the future lead to some word-of-mouth requests to shoot something that may lead to a few bucks, but that's not something I'm actively seeking out.

The teacher asked me how I came to be at their show and if I was interested in traditional Japanese dance. I was frank with her and told her that I came wandering by and so long as the place permitted flash photography I didn't give a hang what the event was. And that, no, I had never particularly had an interest in dance of any sort. I did honestly enjoy the performance, though. But without photography to serve as a bridge, I never would have gone to see it.

I would like to suggest to others who want more opportunities to work on their photographic skills that there may be some similar opportunities in your community. A dance class, martial arts class, amateur/kids sports team, theatre group, etc. Shoot one of their events, work up your best prints from it, and then go share them with the teacher/coach. If they're pleased with the photos, say you'd be glad to do more for them and having improved access to the group/venue would help.

And my wife and kids are just as unimpressed as ever. Nothing like family to keep one's feet firmly nailed to the ground.
11-17-2007, 04:42 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
And my wife and kids are just as unimpressed as ever. Nothing like family to keep one's feet firmly nailed to the ground.
I can help out a little bit with this one, too. You really should be charging them something. Even if it is a token amount for each print, or a token amount for each session.

I've done similar things as this, dropping in on local businesses and taking shots for them. There is nothing wrong with charging, in fact it gets you used to that sort of pressure - even if it is only a small bit of it. And they will think they're getting a bargain.
11-17-2007, 05:08 PM   #15
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Congrats Mike,

That is excellent news indeed and very well deserved.
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