PhotoLounge Presents: Lisa Cho

Collaborative Features

What inspired ‘Ballet on Film’?
"The cinema. I'm most inspired by films like 'In the Mood for Love', 'Mulholland Dr' and many of Alfred Hitchcock's pictures. I love researching how the movie came to be. When Ballet on Film began, I was looking for a long-term project where I could capture those behind-the-scenes moments that viewers don't typically see. The idea was to create a visual story through my camera lens. As the project went on and my relationship with school deepened, so had the project. This past year has definitely added a new layer to the visual storytelling, making it more relevant than ever before."

How would you describe ‘Ballet on Film’? 
"Ballet on Film began as an exploration into the specialized art form of ballet, developed and cultured here in Hawaii. While that is still a thread woven into the heart of this project, it has grown into the more intimate story of how Honolulu Classical Ballet, like many other performing arts studios/organizations has adapted and evolved to keep art and its artists relevant during the pandemic."

Why film for this project?
“The dreamy, otherworldliness of film is unmistakable. It adds such depth and timelessness to a photo. Ballet on Film is shot on film because of all the reasons I mentioned, but also because I love using my vintage cameras, specifically the TLR. I adore film because of what it produces, but equally because of the fun I have shooting it.”

What details about your subjects were most important for you to capture?
“Their genuine emotions in that specific moment in their lives. Ballet on Film is a mix of serious shots, which reflect the seriousness with which the students take their instruction, and playful, lighthearted photos where the dancers are being kids enjoying each other.”

Do you have an image that you connect with most from the project?
“Yes, a recent shot where light is shining through the architecture of a stairway. I love the drama of the architecture, but also the warmth and intimacy the dancers radiate. I must have passed the exterior of this building a hundred times and never realized how special it is. This photo reminds me that there is beauty everywhere and in everyone, we just have to be open to it.”

What was your experience like working with the young dancers at HCB? 
“I had a blast! I liked showing the younger classes how to use the light meter, then each one had a turn reading the light on my face and telling me what my settings should be. With the older students, I liked seeing which photos they repost and having a dialog with them about what shots they like and why. I like learning from all the students.”

Leave a comment