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Photographing an aerialist: a morning spent at the circus with my brother

Spent a brilliant couple of hours with my brother Will, an aerialist who is putting together some new moves for a performance piece and wanted some photos taken for publicity.

Will had kindly been given some studio space at the National Circus Space in London so I put together a simple set up with 2 lights either side of the rope with the idea of highlighting the edges of Will's body. I pulled across the grey curtain behind as a backdrop, knowing that with no flash falling on it, the backdrop should remain very dark.

I had remembered to bring a step ladder which enabled me to get to a height alongside Will - the only downside of this was that I was stuck in this position and could do nothing if the rope decided (as it does) to twist - meaning that Will had to create the same position multiple times to be in the right place for the camera.

We both felt that the photos worked best in colour, as the rope, skin and pants were all of a similar shade, with a warm tone to them. I changed one photo to black and white - this had some motion blur as you can see, but included it as I liked how both of Will's hands - the 2 points connecting him to the rope - are in focus while the rest is moving. And I played around with some multiple exposure on one image - putting the photos where the rope twisted away to good use!

It was really exciting to be photographing something so different, especially a performer as talented as my brother, and the shoot got my creative juices flowing again. The human body is a fascinating subject, all the more so when it can do the amazing feats that Will can put it through!

Below are the finished images for Will (there are a few more that I loved plus a portrait that I will post separately). You can see more of Will's aerial work at his website here:

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