When inspiration strikes, you have to be ready and willing to follow it. One day, photographer Kelly Pratt Kreidich of St. Louis-based duo Pratt + Kreidich asked her husband Ian a seemingly random question: “What if we did pictures of dancers with dogs?” This small idea has grown into a fun and inventive personal project entitled Dancers & Dogs.
Kelly and Ian are a husband and wife photographer duo that specializes in fitness and ballet photography, among other specialties. Dance photography can be highly technical and challenging, and a ballet shoot is not exactly the place you’d expect to find a hairy, chaotic ball of slobbery energy.
We work with a lot of dancers and we thought it would be fun to incorporate dogs into dance photography. Dance photography and dancing, in general, is always seen as being so serious, and we wanted to show the lighter side of the dance world.
Already connected with the Saint Louis Ballet and responsible for their marketing and performance photography, Kelly and Ian knew exactly where they could find some interested dancers.
The duo typically works with 3 or 4 dancer and dog pairs on set each day, with each duo spending roughly an hour and a half on set. When planning out the shots, Kelly and Ian were challenged to find at least four poses or movements that would work well, based on the breed as well as the specific abilities of each dog. They also look for the organic and incidental moments that show up along the way.
The first half hour is allotted for the dancers to warm up, and also for the dogs to adjust to the space and calm down a bit (since they are usually excited when they first arrive).
After the initial warm-up period, Kelly and Ian start by posing and taking several portraits of the dog. This helps the dog feel more comfortable in front of the camera before the dancer is introduced. They both enjoy watching the dancers have fun and experience something new as they interact and play with their furry friends during the shoot.
Kelly and Ian will be the first to admit that it’s not always easy to work with dogs on set. Working with humans can be hard enough! Luckily, the professional dancers are quite capable of taking direction, which in turn is one less thing for the duo to worry about on set.
Though they didn’t start out as animal photographers, they’ve certainly learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t throughout this experience.
Most dogs have been lovely, and a dream on set. We’ve also had a couple dogs who just did not want to cooperate. Dogs can be like toddlers…sometimes they are just not having a good day.
The reaction to this project has been universally positive. Kelly and Ian produced a calendar, in conjunction with the Saint Louis Ballet, that ended up being featured by Pointe Magazine and the American Kennel Club. Their social media following has soared, and they’ve been featured in several interviews and a podcast to speak about the project and their work in general.
This project taps into something that really makes people happy. People love looking at beautiful, elegant dancers, even if they aren’t so familiar with dance. And most people love dogs!
Hoping to expand this project, Kelly and Ian are excited to travel to New York City in April, and other cities after that. The possibility of working with some well-known dancers (and maybe even some well-known dogs) is very exciting for them.