A dancer improvises in a rocky desert…. imaginative dream sequences such as these fuel Gregory Batardon’s passion for photography. Here, he discusses the artistry that inspires him.
Gregory Batardon is a former dancer, and photographer for the leading ballet companies in Switzerland including Ballett Zürich, Grand Théâtre de Genève, and Ballet Luzern.
“It all started when I began taking pictures with my father’s reflex camera as a child. Next came my passion for the arts, partially thanks to my mother, who would take us to Greece to see the rich antiquities there.” Batardon then studied visual arts in high school following which, aged 20 he joined the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève where he worked as a dancer for 19 years.
“Being a dancer in Geneva, the transition to becoming a dance photographer made sense and was relatively smooth. As a dancer and being part of the overall ballet network, I understood the dance environment intimately and knew what shots would be effective from a photographic standpoint,” comments Batardon.
Having worked extensively on stage, Batardon has a profound grasp of spatial awareness. “When composing the picture of a dancer jumping, it’s an automatic reaction for me to frame the whole movement by including the empty space necessary to convey the whole jump’s dynamics.“
Batardon adores having the opportunity to experiment with the scenographic elements of the stage, especially when working for major companies like Ballet Zürich that employ talented set and costume designers for their productions. “I thrive on capturing different perspectives as the dancer performs in front of scenic elements. Lighting design of course plays a vital role, once that it is right, you have the perfect photo.”
Batardon is very attentive to textures both on stage and outdoors. “It is easy to create a popping-out photograph with lots of contrast, but I always strive not to lose the minute detail of costumes or sets by overexposing. Also in nature, I’m intrigued by graphic shapes and textures like rocks and mud rather than a green tree. I find them so stimulating and engaging.
When working on large scale dance productions, Batardon usually takes shots from a central position, as there are many other operators to be respectful of. “But, if I can come along to another performance,” he says “I like to photograph from a few different angles. Those types of jobs, hugely contrast to when I work on my own projects, where I have the freedom to move around the dancer.”
Gregory Batardon particularly enjoys working on independent projects involving one or two dancers. “More than solely focusing on shape, I am interested in the individual actions within the body, for example when a dancer is about to lose balance or when pressure is created from being touched or held. I also love to capture the interaction between a dancer’s body and interfering objects. Dependent on how an object is placed, the body will have to respond and take another shape, completely changing the dynamic, which is always fascinating. It compels me to continue working in such a creative and ever-evolving space. “
More about Gregory Batardon’s work on his website: gregorybatardon.com