There is a fluidity to dance that is often hard to capture in a photograph, but Jordan Matter seems to be a seasoned pro at it. In his book of photographs, Dancers Among Us, Matter has been able to effortlessly showcase the beauty inherent in a dancer’s craft while, at the same time, telling terrific stories through each of the pictures he has taken.
Matter, a professional photographer who works with portraiture, fashion and advertising, said that Dancers Among Us began as a pet project about three years ago, with the hope that it would someday turn into a book. While he began the project in New York City, he went on to take pictures of dancers in places all over America, with photo locations ranging from Maryland to San Francisco.
In his artist statement, Matter attributes the beginning of this project to his son, who, at three years old, seemed to be able to see fantasy in everything around him. Matter wanted to create photographs that would visualize the world as his son would see it—and thus began his photography project. As to why he chose dancers—he wanted to capture people who’d be “alive and in the moment, celebrating all aspects and emotions of everyday life,” and dancers were the perfect fit for what he intended to do.
But what makes Matter’s photographs extraordinary is the fact that every picture is a story in itself, a feature that he admits was a struggle to achieve. “In dance photography, usually what you would see is either a pretty picture of a dancer in a studio or a pretty picture of a dancer outside. But there was no story. It wouldn’t be relatable to real life,” Matter explains.
And so, Matter was insistent on taking beautiful pictures with the dancers he photographed acting as both the models and the storytellers. As a result, the book consists of a variety of everyday scenes: lovers parting at a subway station, an mother dragging her son around a tour of Washington D.C., a man desperate for a bathroom break—the images that Matter has captured are fantastic, impeccable snapshots of the world around us. And no, there was no Photoshop involved!
By combining the art of photography with the art of story-telling, Dancers Among Us zoomed up the popularity charts when it was released in 2012 and soon became a New York Times bestseller as well. Barnes And Nobles called it one of the best books of 2012. You can buy the book from all major bookstores, and you can also stay tuned to Matter’s work by following his blog here.
All photos by Jordan Matter. Follow the author of this story on Twitter: @thisisaby