The Perfect Actors
Actors are part of Jordan Matter’s storytelling arsenal. His photography
is not about dance; it is about the dancer and the dancer’s talent and
skills that, over and over, express the photographer’s vision.
Matter believes dancers offer us a deeper look into familiar
settings, and pairing light and color with targeted timing, he creates an
environment where the dancer like, and yet unlike, ourselves experiences
what we see and do.
Just as dancers prepare their bodies and minds for their art,
Jordan Matter is prepared to create honest photographs that impress us
without recourse to tricks of post-production computer editing.
On a Matter photo shoot the photographer and his models
understand each other’s work ethic. Each moment of excitement results
from hours of perseverance, an exchange of ideas, expended energy, and
always, patience. Whether his dancers leap into the air for 10 or 100
“takes,” Matter and his dancers make the final image look spontaneous,
cloaking effort with grace, just as dancers onstage do.
VIP Treatment | Marcella Guarino
New York, New York 2011
I’d been trying for months to make this shot happen.
Marcella often flies by helicopter to the Hamptons, so she made
a few calls. Late the night before the shoot, we got thumbs up: Heliflite
would loan us a helicopter for twenty minutes! If we went over, we’d
have to pay a $10,000 rental fee. I knew I wanted Marcella to look
like a socialite on her way to the Hamptons but my idea was still
incomplete and I couldn’t put my finger on the missing element, until
I turned and saw a pilot straight out of central casting —now the shot
could be complete. Dripping in the sweltering heat, Marcella did 30
standing jumps in five minutes. As we were patting ourselves on the
back for getting the shot so quickly, the pilot asked, How about this
aircraft carrier floating by? Might look good in the background. Fleet
Week was ending and the sailors were passing. We had five minutes
to get them in the shot. Marcella shifted back into gear, propelled by
the drama of the moment. We finished in time and the setting was
unbelievable. An aircraft carrier passes that heliport only twice a
year, and we were there to capture it.
Rush Hour | Karli Dinardo
New York, New York 2014
It’s amazing how many of my photos happen because I
am drawn to a source of light. I took this photo, one of my
favorites, on a day spent in Midtown Manhattan with a
dancer and a circus performer. We moved as we wanted
around the city and this became our “spontaneous process”
to find interesting locations and great light to photograph
for a video workshop called, “Finding Serendipity.”
Sun streaming through the arched windows of
Grand Central Station is one of the most stunning interior
sights in New York City. This is one of only five shots I took
of Karli Dinardo before the strap of her dress broke. We
expected a warning from security guards but the broken
strap cut our stay short and, so, no warnings happened.
Note: See the entire photography workshop adventure in the video
program projected in this gallery.
Stepping Out with My Baby |
Gus Solomons Jr.,
Carmen de Lavallade
New York, New York 2012
Carmen and Gus are revered in the dance and theater worlds.
I felt more than a little lucky to have an opportunity to work
with them but Carmen was performing eight shows a week on
Broadway in A Streetcar Named Desire and Gus was recovering
from back surgery and walking with a cane. They graciously
agreed to meet an hour before Carmen’s call time at the theater.
After a couple of failed ideas, I found myself with just ten minutes
remaining. The expression “stop and smell the roses” popped
into my head and an idea suddenly came to me. I would use the
blur of activity that defines Manhattan to underscore the beauty
of a simple embrace. I set my camera’s shutter speed at 1/25th of
a second to achieve the motion blur.
During this brief shoot, more people stopped and
commented on them than on any other dancers I photographed
over the years.
Jordan Matter, Dancers Among Us, “Loving”
Stroller Boogie |
Karin Ellis Wentz,
with her daughter
New York, New York 2011
Karin retired from the prestigious American
Ballet Theatre once her baby, Madeleine, was
born but she was still in great enough shape to
jump 64 times, while I waited for her daughter
to do something fantastic for the photograph.
Two great models strolling on New York City’s
High Line. Worth the wait!
Jordan Matter, Dancers Among Us, “Living”