Photo series: Ballerinas and dogs

It couldn’t have been simpler. “One day I thought, Wouldn’t it be fun to try to do a photo session with a dancer and a dog?” And after one session, Pratt & Kreidich Photographers’ “Dancers & Dogs” series was born.

St. Louis, Missouri-based Kelly Pratt Kreidich and her husband, Ian Kreidich, have been photographing the St. Louis Ballet for four years. They wanted to show a lighter side to ballet dancers, who are typically depicted and perceived as serious. Adding a dog to the mix changes the dynamic, both during the session and in the resulting images.

“The biggest thing is being patient,” says Kelly, who had never worked with pets prior to the series. “Dogs are like 2-year-olds, and even the best dog can have a bad day.” She’s learned to select canine subjects that are comfortable in unfamiliar spaces with a lot of distraction. “We have lots of lights going off and big equipment, and the dancer will be doing big dance moves,” she says, all of which can make an animal nervous. “They have to be really confident, and ideally they need to know how to sit and to stay for a few seconds. That is the biggest thing.”

© Pratt+Kreidich Photogaphers

The Kreidiches work with professional dancers for the series, making a potentially chaotic session less unpredictable—“one less thing we have to worry about,” Kelly says.

Thanks to the popularity of the series online, coming up with dancer and dog subjects hasn’t been difficult. The Kreidiches started with dancers they knew from the St. Louis Ballet and dogs owned by friends. Then they traveled to New York to photograph dancers from the American Ballet Theatre. Recently they were invited by the Orlando Ballet for sessions with 10 of its dancers, a few of the dancers’ dogs, and dogs owned by others involved with the company. “They are really big dog lovers,” she says of the troupe.

The end goal for the series: 100 dancer-dog pairings. At press time, the Kreidiches had photographed 31.  

Amanda Arnold is the associate editor of Professional Photographer.