Fiona Whyte is a multi-talented artist who caught our eye with her incredible photographs from the Strictly Live Tour – 2015. In addition to her brilliant photography skills, she has operated her own dance school, Fi Steps, for 24 years. She is from Horsham in West Sussex and her dance school branches are in Horsham and Crawley. We know you will love learning more about her!
Many of us first noticed your work when we saw your beautiful photos from this year’s Strictly Come Dancing Live tour, and we were surprised to learn that you got your start in photography fairly recently. How did you get started, what aspect of it interested you, and how did you end up doing performance photography/live show photography?
I first took photos in 2014 on Pasha Kovalev & Katya Virshilas’ UK tour. I have run my own dance school for almost 25 years and have a huge passion for dance and performance. Having recently lost my Mum the one thing I realized is that you can never have enough photographs, so I treated myself to a good camera. My dance school was participating in two performances of the tour and that’s where I took my first photos. After that I was thrilled to be asked to photograph several other performances on the tour. I seem to have been blessed with the ability to capture dance at the right moment. My many years in the industry may help with that as I know how a dancer would want to be seen.
You’ve been a busy lady lately! Tell us about some of your recent projects and what you have coming up in the near future.
Yes things have been mad! I am taking photos of Pasha’s current tour at the moment and am also blessed to be taking photos for some of the UK’s best performing arts colleges.
I did the Puttin' On Ritz tour for last two nights with Kristina Rihanofff, Robin Windsor, Trent Whiddon, Pixie Lott and Gordana Grandosek. Tomorrow I am on the Life Through Dance Tour with Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis where my dance school will also perform within the show at The Capitol Theatre in Horsham.
What are some of the challenges you face when shooting live shows?
The hardest thing about live shows is my positioning, as obviously the view for a paying audience has to come first. Where I can be located really depends on the venue, but is often at the back of the circle.
When shooting dance shows and performances such as the Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour or Pasha Kovalev’s Life Through Dance, how many photos might you shoot during an average show? From that number, how many do you actually use or post?
On average I probably take about 500-600 photos for a full show, sometimes more if I haven’t seen it or photographed it before, less if I am more familiar with it. I guess I end up using maybe one in five photos and often only two in any hundred will be seen. It depends on the performer and whether I they wish to provide confirmation that they are happy with the photographs. I am now at the stage where some people trust me and my work and allow me to release photos without checking with them first.
In your opinion, what makes a good photograph?
I photograph with my heart and passion. I look to capture the performers’ emotions or a special moment!
Is there a photographic project thus far that you have found particularly interesting or fascinating?
I adore dance shows, but I would also like to do more animal and pet photography. I love live show work and the challenge of getting that ‘great’ dancer shot!
Obviously photography is your passion, but what other art forms are of interest to you?
Clearly I love performance, and this takes me to watch as many shows as possible. I also enjoy movies and music. The best time for me though is quality family time, such as days out or holidays, times that provide lifelong memories.
Earlier I mentioned my dance school – I love giving my students the goals, opportunities and self worth which I lacked as a child. I aim to provide them with as many dance performance opportunities as I possibly can - wonderful experiences which will provide them with amazing memories.
Tell us more about yourself. What do you do for fun? What (and who) do you like about Strictly Come Dancing? What would you like to be doing 5 years from now?
I am married with a 9 year old daughter and we have three cats. Often when I’m playing with my daughter we have so much fun that I forget that I am the adult!
Strictly – well the professionals are sublime. Most people underestimate the amount of work, sacrifice and dedication that they put into their work. I started studying ballroom and Latin dance when I was three and continued to do so for just over 16 years so I have a huge appreciation of how the professionals constantly strive for perfection.
I think my ultimate goal is to become the dancers’ photographer! I would love to be the one they rely upon to capture the live dance shows.
Any words for all the new fans of your work?
I love that people are enjoying my photos as much as I am capturing the things I love. I am so grateful for the love and support.
I come from very very humble beginnings. I have a huge passion for dance and have run my own dance school for 24 years, keeping kids off streets, giving them goals, self worth and performance opportunities in West Sussex, UK. This has also led me to have another huge passion for live show photography. As an ex-dancer but still with a huge heart I try and capture a routine from a dancers and performers perspective. I have toured taking photos of Katya Virshilas & Pasha Kovalev last year. I am taking photos of Pasha’s tour this year. I took photos of all the top professional dance colleges at Move It at Olympia. As well as being on tour with Pasha Kovalev, I have also captured Camilla Dallerup, Robin Windsor and Kristina Rhianoff. I have also captured Miss Pole UK, The Gershwin Tour, Strictly Come Dancing Tour, Ballet Theatre UK to mention a few. Lots of exciting shoots in the pipeline! I am now official photographer for Anna Kennedy Online which works raising money and awareness for autism. I am also official photographer for various touring bands one being the The Rapiers. Dancers / performers seem to be really happy with my photos as I know how a dancer and performer feel. I try and capture a photo from my heart. I am growing and learning daily.
I have had photos published the last two months issues of Dance Today as well as newspapers. I think I have more photos being published in next month's Dance Today. Love and blessings - Thank you for your kindness and belief in me . --Fiona
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