Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland

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I’m not sure at this point if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t heard of Misty Copeland. Besides making history as the only African American soloist dancing with the American Ballet Theatre, her best-selling autobiography, ‘Life In Motion’, dancing onstage with Prince, appearing in ads for Under Armour, Dr. Pepper, Coach, The Corcoran Group and T-Mobile, and her numerous features in magazines like The New Yorker, Vogue, Elle and New York Magazine, the 32 year-old ballerina is possibly the most visible face in the dance World since Baryshnikov. And my buddy Rob Smith asked me to put her on the cover of Arrive. Here’s the behind-the-scenes from our day at Bathhouse Studios

Since we knew we would have relatively limited time with Misty, Rob and I had worked up our ideas for the shoot early on. The story was about mentors, and we would be photographing Misty with Raven Wilkinson, the first black woman to dance full-time in a major ballet company, including Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, the Dutch National Ballet, and the New York City Opera Ballet. We had to get enough for our cover, a few opening shots, a portrait of Misty and Raven together and anything else we could fit in! But shooting at the Bathhouse meant we would have lotsa space to set up everything beforehand cuz the studio is so beautifully huge!



Our setup on the cyc…and that marvelously high ceiling…


Kaz and I setting up the two-shot of Misty and Raven…


Robert and Julien sitting in for our cover…


Julien taking flight…



My stylist Karen Sherwood laying out the wardrobe…



Misty arrived just as we were about finished with our setup and went into hair & makeup right away…


…but shortly afterwards, our little dancers from the ABT School showed up…


and they quickly put on a little show for Misty…



Julien grabbed Misty to test the lighting on our first setup…



…and so started our shooting day…





Here is the final portrait of Raven and Misty…


Next, we moved onto the cyc for our opening photo of Misty with the Dance School students…









Misty approves…


…and the resulting photograph…

Misty Copeland

Now I wanted to do a series of solo shots of Misty in different positions. The idea was that I would assemble these solo images into one unified ‘group’ photograph…






And the final ‘group’ shot…


Before I took Misty off the cyc, I pulled out my vintage stools for one more idea…




Best shot of those two stools I’ve ever taken…

Misty Copeland

Oh yeah…I nearly forgot…CBS sent over Anthony Mason and a film crew to document our little shoot for CBS Sunday Morning


Now where was I…oh right…the final shot would be of Misty and Raven together for our cover. We re-purposed that ballet barre from the shot with the kids, and set up a very simple situation with a big, soft Octalite…Misty in her costume as her mentor looked on…




Our cover image…


Here’s how everything looked in ‘Arrive’…








82 thoughts on “Misty Copeland

  1. Great article Brad, excellent. I see you’re shooting with a Hasselblad and tethered using Capture One Pro, how is that done? Didn’t think C1 Pro recognised Hassy files?

    Simple…Hasselblad H4x body + Leaf Credo 60 back + CaptureOne Pro = Groovy BT

  2. i just learned a few days ago that The Bathhouse studio is the former home of the late & great Eddie Adams.

  3. “I’m not sure at this point if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t heard of Misty Copeland.”

    Not until today. I tend not to be concerned with television and such and I truly don’t follow the fine performing arts, so I’ve never had the opportunity to see the young lady. So, be sure that, until I read this, there was at least one person who had not heard of Misty Copeland.

    Your shoot was awesome, and the final results complimentary to her. I’m sure she is happy with that, as she should be. Thank you for sharing your work with us.

  4. Love it. My daughter, Makayla has been fine tuning her craft since 3. I thought sharing pictures and stories of Misty would encourage and teach her, but I’m the one that got schooled. Makayla smiled and nodded but made it clear she is self driven and doesn’t require extra fluff from mommy. Bravo Makayla!

  5. What can one say except “simply sublime in every way – photographer, artists, crew, the star herself, and the final edition of Arrive”. Just so you know I’m shouting Bravo although you can’t hear me 🙂

    Wow…unexpected high praise from such an esteemed Patron of the Arts! Thank you, Doctor…greatly appreciated. BT

  6. Reblogged this on Just a Curly Gurl and commented:
    Having a role model that you can identify with is so important when you are young. I found mine in magazines before the Internet was so widely available and smart phones didn’t exist. As a former dancer I know I would have loved having Misty’s name on my locker (I had Isadora Duncan’s). Thank you for sharing the behind the scenes of your shoot with Misty Copeland.

  7. Hi, I happened to stumble on your blog. I’m not a photographer or anything but I just wanted to say I really loved the photo of Misty with the young white ballerinas. I thought it it was such a striking image! I wished she looked more natural in it, like her hair and skin color so you could really see the difference. I’ve never heard of Misty Copeland but after this post I don’t think I’ll ever forget her now. Thank you for the lasting impression.

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