“My brain fires in time with the lens as I seek the perfect moment to capture a shot. I am in the dance, a part of the dance, completely exhausted by the end- like I have just taken a five- hour math test, but I am so grateful.”
Afshin Odabaee approaches dance photography as a total- body, active and immersive experience. A dancer and lifetime athlete, he takes photos from within a dance. “I get involved. I move amongst the dancers if I can”. His images speak to moments in between two precipices, when the person drops away and something raw and primal emerges. “I wait and see how something will develop. Its the in- between, the primitive nature of dance, that intrigues me”.
A Silicon Valley engineer by trade, photography is a creative outlet for Afshin and a way of giving back to the Bay Area dance community. “Photography is not a business for me. I take photos to help friends and to offer my point of view”. Afshin’s foray into photography began as a small child when he would hike and take mental images of things he later wanted to draw. It was not until his brother’s wedding, many years later that he first picked up a camera. “When the images were developed, people said they were great and I said, ‘Really? That’s just how I see things’. I realized there might be something there”.
Life experiences, and the creativity of others inform personal creativity. “We mimic. Everything we create is based upon something we were exposed to that we then adapted, commented upon or rejected.” Afshin perceives that one’s background and life story thus define the unique creativity of the artist. “Everyone has such a complex storyline. Experiences and stories from people’s lives are blended together and for every person a different mixture, or flavor comes out. That’s creativity!”. However, Afshin said that he is careful not to let his own creative agenda determine the outcome of his photos. “I open myself up, to let things happen, without forcing my own ideas. It is always a collaboration with people, light, spaces…”
Much of Afshin’s dance photography is site-specific in nature. “Each location offers itself for a unique storyline.” New and alternative dance spaces thus inspire Afshin as he is eager to discover what emerges from a space. “I let myself happen TO the space. I am like a kid, taking in the environment, the people, the lighting…taking it all in.” He strives to step back as much as he can and allow the dancers and space to speak to him. “I never duplicate an image. Every dancer’s story is unique and I challenge myself to reflect their expression, feeling and way of movement. A photograph is a very personal journal of a dancer’s experience.”
Afshin expressed tremendous gratitude for his opportunities to photograph the Bay Area dance community. “I don’t belong in the dance world but wonderful artists have given me the opportunity to be a part of it. I am absolutely grateful and have learned so much”. His photos are an opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level. “I get a chance to know people with my photography. I meet a person with my camera and in a way it is like finding an unknown window in a wall- A whole new view!”
For more information on Afshin Odabaee visit his website