Capturing motion in a photograph

Capturing motion in a photograph

Painting with light, capturing motion in a photograph as if it were video: German photographer Martin Duerr wanted to see if he could make his creative ideas become reality. In his project LUMIX Dance, he photographed dancers in three different settings, using various kinds of lighting and body paint. The results were even better than he had hoped. ‘The photos of the first session felt like paintings. The advanced technology inside the LUMIX S5 made it all possible.’

Duerr is not a ‘natural born photographer’ as he likes to call it. ‘I started as an illustrator and graphic designer. I still like to ‘draw’ in my photography, but in this case, I’m using a camera. For this project, I wanted two things: to paint with light and to photograph people, but not as static objects in the frame surrounded by lines someone ‘paints’ with lights in the sky. I wanted to capture emotion and movement, just like you would in video. Instead of copying these kinds of images that you can easily find on the Internet, I wanted to do it my way.’ He got in touch with Dr Helgi Schweizer, an 82-year-old psychologist with decades of experience in the perception of light.  

‘Dr Schweizer researched the effects of different types of light on people: what kind of lighting makes people happy and energetic and what makes them depressed, for example. Together, we came up with the idea of using a cube and flexible fabrics as creative catalysts for the photos. He also has a lot of experience with dance and light projection.’ The first shoot was about getting a feeling for the Live Composite mode, a new feature on the LUMIX S5. ‘We worked with acrobat Lexa Lee. Her moves were incredible! Due to the ease of working with the Live Composite mode, we could start shooting right away. These first photos are lovely; they look just like paintings.’

In the second shoot and third shoots, he worked with Hany Phan, another dancer. ‘From the first to the third set, the photos get more abstract. In the second shooting, we used external lights and in the third, body paint and black light. The S5 did a great job: it had no problem detecting the dancer’s face in really dark conditions. The noise reduction was really good as well.’
Duerr does a lot of fashion shoots. ‘Then I work with mood boards and I know what kind of photos are required. With this project, I didn’t know what to expect, because the lighting conditions changed with the position of the lights and the dancer’s movements. We didn’t work with a mood board; we just started experimenting with the dancers, the lighting and colours.’

He didn’t give the dancers a lengthy briefing beforehand either. ‘I just told them the directions and speeds they should move. They made their own interpretations and really expressed themselves in the dance. It was a very intense way of working together, not only with them, but also with Dr Schweizer.’ He really enjoyed working on this project. ‘It was a chance to play and experiment with different types of lighting, with movement, expression and emotions, a chance to capture motion in one image, to work in a team and be creative. I can’t wait to do another project like this.’

Daimon Xanthopoulos

Martin Dürr

Born and raised in Munich, Germany Martin Dürr started his career as an illustrator and designer where he worked for international companies until he get into portrait and fashion photography in early 2014. Based on all his experience he developed his own unique photo style he is known for. Not tied to any specific genre he releases his creativity and is shooting in different styles abstract to opulent scenery, always with the aim to generate images that will stay for a long time in the mind of the viewer. For Martin, one key to success in photography is the ability to set up the right communication between all participants in a shooting. Regardless of which "type" the shooting is: whether it is a workshop, a commercial, a private portrait shooting or a fashion shooting with a great team. Talking the same language in photography opens up a cornucopia of ideas which results in images that will fascinate.

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