Aerial Hoop Portraits with Brooke

I had the very great pleasure this fall of doing some aerial hoop portraits with the wonderful Brooke. We took the portraits the week before she moved to Vermont to attend professional circus school. I thought a session would be a nice going-away present since every artist needs professional photos! We had a blast on this super quick shoot, and followed it up with a trail run and bagel sandwiches. All in all a total win.

I wanted to mix it up on this shoot from the other aerial portraits I’ve done at Air Temple. I adore their ultra clean look but I wanted to play with a more stylized shoot. The backdrop from Reverie in Spirit and Shadow was still hanging so I decided on an enchanted, fairy-tale vibe. I covered one of the studio’s lyras in leftover flowers and foliage from the show and I love how it came out! The flowers added a lovely aesthetic but made for an admittedly tricky-to-use apparatus. Over the course of the shoot we paused to fix some ‘wilting’ flowers since I adhered everything just with tape.

Brooke is great at a number of disciplines but her focus is aerial hoop. Hoop suits her so well and allows her to really showcase her flexibility. You wouldn’t know it but Brooke is a huge goof, so naturally she was game for anything. 

We initially decked her out in some enchanted-princess style garb (complete with flower crown) but immediately scaled it back. Her beautiful purple leotard worked great, and the other getup was definitely overkill. I’m really glad we did as that leo is super romantic and gives off the vibe we wanted without distracting from her wonderful lines.

This shoot was far and away the most editing I’ve done so far. I wanted  a very specific ‘faded fairytale’ sort of vibe, and all of that needed to be done in editing. Admittedly this was a little nerve-wracking going into the shoot–I just had to trust that I’d be able to put all the missing pieces together in editing. For each photo I did initial work in Lightroom and then ran them through Photoshop where I had a lot of fun playing with Actions. I ended up also editing out a lot of the foliage in the backdrop because it distracted from Brooke’s skills in certain photos.

Look at those back muscles! Brooke is actually relatively new to circus (I think it will be two years this winter?) but she’s incredible with a great personality, as well as fantastic strength and flexibility. I can’t wait to see where she’s at after a few years in a professional training program!

I think the above photo is my favorite from the shoot. It exudes enchantment, and there’s a touch of wistfulness there too. I really enjoy the pop of her rosy complexion, and it almost feels like more of a painting than a photo. Plus, of course, it really showcases her fantastic lines and flexibility. 

Black definitely isn’t my preferred backdrop color with the set up I currently have. If you’re working with an artist who has dark hair or skin–they’ll tend to get sucked into the backdrop without a fancy lighting setup. That said I do love how open to creativity and drama black is. We definitely couldn’t have done a shoot like this with my usual white.

I had a great time doing aerial hoop portraits with Brooke! It was a great experiment and I definitely gleaned a lot of good info. Now I know what works and what doesn’t for the next time I want to do something similar. I love photographing such talented individuals–the work really does itself. I can’t wait for the next time I get to work with Brooke!

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