[Image:3657,right]Dance photographer Joe Lambie got his first camera age 9, and wanted to be a painter as a teen. He says he got distracted (by girls, football) but kept taking photos. Working his way through college, as a stage-hand in the dance departments, Lambie fell in love with dance. Why?

Lambie realised that dancers, in performance, go to a place that other performers never get to. That their discipline, training and the pain they go through, allow them to achieve physical ecstasy in performance. This was articulated by Jacques d'Amboise in 1965, in a Q & A session after a New York City Ballet performance that Lambie stage-managed, who said: “dance is ecstatic abandon.” Lambie has tried, ever since,  to capture some hint/sense of that in his photos. 

Lambie says he goes into a shoot with as few expectations as possible, claiming he doesn’t know enough to stage anything. “The dancers are the artists – the art is what the people in front of the camera do – I let them live in my eye.” 

© Joe Lambie
© Joe Lambie
© Joe Lambie
© Joe Lambie

For Lambie, the most important element of a good dance photo is a sense of motion, of going somewhere, doing something. “An awful lot of classic dance photos could be posed. I don't mind if technique is a little off, I don't mind a sense of becoming: a feeling that takes you towards that ecstatic quality. Everything else is subjective.”

“Dance photography is anticipatory by nature. If you wait for the exciting moment, it’s too late, and you miss the moment. But if you’re lucky enough to get to practice, you get good.”

© Joe Lambie
© Joe Lambie
His work with Invertigo Dance Theater allows Lambie to practice. Although adamant he is not an artist, Lambie says he is a craftsman, able to use lighting and photoshop to achieve the final image he wants. “I generally have an image in my head when I take it.”

Lambie manipulates the colour in the camera, shooting at low contrast and low saturation, and manipulates in photoshop afterwards. One of the standout qualities of Lambie’s photographs is the colour, but the original images are completely different: “the colour comes later.”

Now 70, Lambie says: “I used to just have an open door policy - I would work with any company or individual that wanted to work with me. But I have no patience any more for people who are posing as creators and are largely imitators. Now I only work with people whose work I genuinely respect and enjoy. Having worked enough with Laura (and Invertigo Dance Theater), I am quite spoiled now. They are the joy of my life right now: she is remarkable - a great storyteller, entertainer, and choreographer.”

Commenting on his images, Lambie wrote: "the goal, as I said, is first to capture ecstatic abandon. Second is to create an image that one can look at every day and continue to find it beautiful." 

Sofia Klass, Invertigo Dance Theater © Joe Lambie
Sofia Klass, Invertigo Dance Theater
© Joe Lambie