How I Got The Shot – The Travellers

Usually by this point in a new year,  we have been on an airplane 3 or 4 times…. Let alone all of the travel that was canceled last year due to the pandemic!  We are not alone in feeling the major wayfaring vagabond travel lust right now!  These pangs of travel tugging at Rachel’s heartstrings are what inspired this image.  Is this couple embracing after being apart for a stretch of time?  Are they about to be separated for some reason?  Or heck.. are they two strangers who fell in love at first sight?  This gripping narrative work is where Rachel’s skills as an image alchemist truly shine.

This shot of  Rachel Richardson of ABT and Alessio Crognale of The Martha Graham Company was produced in collaboration with the amazing set builders Quinn and Monique of Stonedog Studios in NJ, the divine Stella Brandt on styling… and this supremely YUMMY piece of luggage by TUMI.

Rachel wanted this image to have an air of futuristic minimalism.  Quinn, the woman responsible for building this incredible set, nailed creating this scene for Rachel.  

The lighting approach for this shot was threefold: light the space, light the bag, light the dancers. 

All of our strobes are Profoto D2’s.  

We have two bare bulb D2’s blasting through the scrim that’s creating the “window” in the back wall to give us a general ambient back lit exposure.   

We have two D2’s with 10° gridded and flagged Zoom Reflectors lighting our suitcase (one of which had to be manually aimed by our assistant Esteban to follow the suitcase as the dancer moved).  

For a main light on the dancers, we have a 5’ Chimera Octabox boomed about the cameras just to the right of camera angle.  We have a 2×3 gridded Chimera Softbox boomed just camera left to give both dancer’s upper bodies a little bit more exposure, and then we’ve got a 10° gridded and diffused Zoom reflector aimed right at the female dancer’s face to bring up some of the shadows.  Lastly we have stacked a gridded 1×3 Profoto strip softbox and gridded 1×4 Chimera strip soft box to highlight the edges of the dancers and help separate them from the background.  We used a combination of an industrial leaf blower and a Reel EFX fan to give the female dancer’s hair to keep it out of her face and give some motion to her hair.

It truly takes a village to produce evocatively engaging images like this, and we couldn’t have done this without our amazing team.


Photographer: Rachel Neville

Dancers: Rachel Richardson and Alessio Crognale

Props: TUMI

Set design: Quinn Stone and Monique Walker of Stonedog Studios

Styling: Stella Brandt

Hair and Makeup: Alena Bankovska

Digitech: Dominic Colacchio

First assistant and BTS stills: Andrew Fassbender

Second assistant: Esteban Suero


Gear used:

Nikon D6

Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8

Tethertools tether cord and tether block

Eizo CG2730 monitor

Profoto D2 – 500 and 1000 watt

Profoto Air Remote TTL

Profoto Zoom reflectors and grids

Profoto 1×3 strip softbox with grid

Chimera 5’ octabox

Chimera 2×3 softbox with grid

Chimera 1×4 strip softbox with grid

Lee Filters 216 diffusion

Avenger light stands and booms

Reel EFX studio fan

Andrew Fassbender

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