Fifteen years ago, Silvano Ballone moved from Zurich to Hamburg to dance in John Neumeier’s Hamburg Ballett. He doesn’t miss his Swiss home, but the cuisine of his Italian “Mamma”. During his time at the Hamburger Ballett, Silvano started taking pictures backstage, and two years ago he changed the ballet shoes for the camera.
Ever since, Silvano is out and about as a professional photographer behind Hamburg’s scenes. Moving back to Switzerland is not an option for him. “Hamburg gives me a feeling of security and adventure at the same time. It has its down sides (the weather), but on the up sides it’s perfect for visual arts.” On his Instagram account @s.ballone.photography he shows impressive shots of dancers as well as the architectural classics of Hamburg.
Silvano, ballet and photography – how do these art forms go together?
For me ballet is an art form of expression in movements. Movements which are waiting to be caught on film. It is mainly created through forms, lines, circular shapes and last but not least by emotions. I’m overly perfectionist. I guess it comes from all my years and discipline I had to train for being a ballet dancer. As a photographer I simply have to be 150 percent happy with the result. It can be a “curse” but that’s who I am. I’m really fortunate to know the art of dance like the back of my hand. Especially with ballet there are very specific visual requirements which have to be fulfilled. There are incredible photographers out there who will catch a great emotional still in a photograph but they wouldn’t know about the esthetic correctness which is really important when displaying and capturing ballet.
Any tips on how to shoot authentic portraits?
In portraits I like to show things that people like to conceal. It’s so very interesting when the person reveals that. In a way, it’s a big credit in trust. The photographs become raw and real then. I usually give them time to a warm up to me – and for me to getting to know them. For me it’s important not only to catch the right esthetic moment in a photograph but the emotion behind it. When I take photos of dancers and watch the dance through my camera I’m right on stage with them dancing along. That’s an incredible feeling to have.
Where are the best photo spots for portraits in Hamburg?
There are a few spots which are great for portraits. I think for me it always depends on the mood, the person and the weather – dear Hamburg wheather! (laughs) I would say blank walls and lost places always carry a mood for portraits. As well as under bridges where you can play with shadows. And early in the morning when the sun hits you straight in the face. When I shoot photographs of dancers in winter days, I prefer dance studios, halls and large staircases. For example the main staircase facing the courtyard of the John Neumeier Ballet school. In summer you are basically more free to go anywhere around the city where you feel inspired. From city urban style at the Oberhafen and Überseequartier to idealistic forest at Jenischpark or to the water sceneries at the Elbstrand.
Silvano, thanks for the talk and ahoi!