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  • Writer's pictureHopeful Sandati

My first photography commission

When I made up my mind to fully embrace my life passion to become a photographer and documentary filmmaker, I knew exactly what success would look like in the longterm: making a good living and travelling the world, while taking beautiful images of other human beings, telling, and preserving the history of people who look like me.

What I couldn't fathom was being selected as THE “commissioned photographer” for a 2024 exhibition by the Museum of Colour. This project of national importance, entitled "A Very British Rhythm," recognises extraordinary artists of colour who have significantly influenced the UK dance world over the past 250 years. 

After recovering from a brief bout of shock of landing my first photography commission, I was excited to meet the curators and artists. Although the photoshoots were initially planned for one location, we ended up shooting in both London and Leeds. In London, we spent two days at the historic Theatre Royal Stratford East, a Victorian era theatre in Newham. In Leeds we spent the day at the Riley Theatre, in Yorkshire’s prestigious Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

Having worked on tight client briefs before, this project presented the welcome challenge of much more creative influence ( i.e. how do we capture the rhythm and dynamic energy that captivated audiences, in still images?) 

The approach I pitched was simple in thought yet complex in execution. We shot still portraits and dancers in motion, both in timeless monochrome. I captured their dynamic energy and movement with slow shutter speeds, combining continuous and flash lighting to create a light painting effect. 

I got to meet incredible human beings: dancers, choreographers, performers, MBE’s, and OBE’s. Shooting such influential people in these incredible spaces saw me pinching myself in case I was deep in a pleasant fantasy. It did happen, because you can see a sneak peek of the images captured while listening to Bob Marley here.

I could not have executed these shoots without my creative assistant/fiancée Chelsea and the support of our dog Tyson.

Now halfway through the project, we are back in London for 3 shoot dates this January with a physical exhibition launching in March/April 2024.

Now that I've had a taste of success, I can't wait to see what this year has in store.

Get in touch to discuss commissions, collaborations etc 

Sharon Watson CEO and Principal of Northern School of Contemporary Dance
A very British Rhythm


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