How do you prepare for the shooting?
As I take photos all over the world, my preparation starts weeks before the concert. I book my flights and the hotel. This, too, has its own nuances. When choosing the flight, I allow for some spare time, if possible, so I am able to reach the theatre via other means in the case if the flight is cancelled or delayed. I always book a hotel near the theatre. I want to be sure that I am there on time and nothing disturbs my preparation for the night’s highlight. I definitely introduce myself to all of the key-performers. I read about them online to find out where they have studied and in which theatres they have danced, so I know what to expect. Sometimes I watch a recording of the ballet; some classical pieces can be interpreted differently and I like to know precisely what shall happen in the play and when. More about my routines: I usually eat a strong meal about 1.5 hours before the show and take a water bottle with me, so I have the energy to be fully focused until the last step is taken on stage.
Before leaving the hotel, I check all of my photo equipment – memory cards, batteries, lenses; I also take some test photos.
I always wear proper clothes, suitable for the opera theatre. Not many photographers do this; they turn up wearing jeans and a sweater, while all the other guests have made an effort for the event and are prepared. I want to be in the theatre about an hour before, so I can familiarise myself with the place. Once I arrived just before the show started, so my concentration was ruined for almost the entire first act. My aim is to blend in and be invisible. I am the last to enter and the first to leave the hall; I take photos discreetly with my absolutely silent Sony A9 camera. After the show, I make copies of my memory cards. To sum up, you need to pay lots of attention to technical aspects. Simply enjoying ballet in the theatre is such an enjoyable and restful event compared to taking photos.