Kelly Stachura Photography: For the Love of Dance

Kelly Stachura is the owner and principal photographer for Kelly Stachura Photography, specializing in a variety of photography services, mainly focused on art and dance exhibitions.  We sat down with Kelly during a rehearsal last month at C5 Studios to learn a bit more about Kelly and her work:  

What prompted your transition from dance to photography?

I wasn’t the greatest dancer [laugh]. Seeing movement from behind the camera is a lot like being able to perform, but I love looking inside the dancer and pulling out their driving force.  I love the energy of dance styles like jazz and acrobatics.  Dance is about the emotion and feeling that dancers evoke in the audience.  When you see and capture the moment when a dancer nails something, there is an ‘aha!’ moment, and that’s inspiring.  

What drew you to this project?  

I love the city of Chicago and always have - no matter where I travel, it’s where I come back to.  I live here and enjoy it when I have the prospect of doing something in the heart of the city.  I also love nature, and along with dance photography made for an unusual combination. It sounded like fun.

Fantasmagorie Chicago © 2016 Kelly Stachura Photography

Fantasmagorie Chicago © 2016 Kelly Stachura Photography

From what you’ve seen so far, what’s gotten you the most excited?

I think seeing the layers as they get added on.  I’ve seen the raw choreography being set, then in the raw inventive stage, and now with props and costumes added, and audio, and finally the air and light and textures that are created with all of these elements combined.  As a visual artist, being able to see what’s created is incredibly exciting.  

What’s the next type of project you’d like to work on?

What’s so interesting is that I’m in a place where I’m taking on new challenges. Traveling, experiencing new cultures and stimuli.  I feel as though I’m prepping myself for the next step, whatever that is.  I’m feeling my way around and seeing what’s next. I’d love to travel and do more projects internationally while continuing to work with dancers.  I’d like to broaden the kind of work I’m doing, and continue working on collaborations like this that push the definition of what dance can be and how accessible it is to audiences.  Dance can be set aside in a box and geared to certain audiences, so it’s refreshing to see that this is so broadly appealing to the masses.  

Kelly Stachura Photography

Kelly Stachura Photography

What do you think is the most important tool for you as a photographer?

Knowing your equipment extremely well.  Knowing the basics of photography like lighting and composition.  When you photograph dance, you don’t have time to think about these things.  You have to already know what you’re seeing so you can translate settings automatically.  Your camera is an extension of your eye - a way to record what you’re thinking and seeing at the same time.  

What’s your favorite thing to photograph?

I love photographing dancers at pinnacle moments of transition, whether they’re going into college, graduating and taking their first professional step, or seasoned dancers expanding their portfolios.  I enjoy giving feedback on technique and lighting - extra layers of feedback that, as a dancer, I’m able to offer.  It’s rewarding to be a part of this process, to see where my work helps a dancer go in their career and how it helps them achieve their potential.