Photographer Brad Walls is known for his symmetrical, clean, and aesthetically pleasing aerial photos. This time, he reimagined Swan Lake at a salt lake. He and Sasonah Huttenbach of the New York City Ballet’s Corp de Ballet visited the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Brad did the photoshoot solely from the air and ended up with another set of splendid images he kindly shared with DIYP.
Brad has always been deeply fascinated by the story of Swan Lake. Ultimately, it inspired him to explore the light and dark aspects of humanity through art from an alternate perspective. in September 2022, He chose a vast, barren salt lake as the location for his photoshoot. You’ll notice the use of shadow in this project, and it was deliberate. Brad says that he used it to convey different emotions. “Depending on your state of mind, your shadow could offer comfort or reflect a darker mood,” he tells DIYP. Additionally, he cleverly merged Swan Lake with a salt lake, which I, as a language nerd, highly appreciate.
The objective for this project was to challenge conventional ballet photography norms. Brad wanted to do something different and redirect the attention from the confines of the theater to the outside world. “While theater ballet performances are undoubtedly breathtaking, there exists a captivating harmony between the natural wonders of our world and the art of Ballet,” the photographer says. “It’s a seamless fusion.”
Brad also chose to photograph a single dancer to portray both the Black and the White swan. As he explained, it was a deliberate artistic hoice, as “utilising different dancers would have diminished the poignant symmetrical struggle that I aimed to convey in my photography.”
Sassonah also reflects on the day Brad pitched the photoshoot concept. “I connected with the idea,” she says. “The white and black swans depicted on the salt reflected my inner conflicts that I’ve grappled with throughout my journey as a Ballet dancer living between Japan and now the US.” She says that ballet has given her structure and a form of expression that she adores, “but such discipline is a fight against my curiosity of the world.” So, I believe that she was absolutely the ideal model for this kind of project about duality and the “black and white” of our personalities.
In 2024, Brad intends to feature this series, along with other photoshoots from around the world, in a coffee table book. It will include his shoots with the New York City Ballet, Australian Ballet, and English National Ballet. And in the meantime, enjoy the rest of Swan Lake on the salt lake below, and make sure to follow Brad’s work on his website and Instagram.