Bookmarked: Dancers Among Us by Jordan Matter

By Real Talk by Alex Castillo - 7:25:00 PM

As kids, we grew up believing in magic. We believed in the impossible things and trusted that we can do anything and be anything we wanted to be. But as we got older, our belief in such 'magic' dimmed and got clouded by what adults call, “reality.” It turned us into thinkers, rather than dreamers.

Thankfully, we no longer live in an era when being creative is seen as a 'waste of time'. Slowly, people are starting to see and appreciate the importance of feeding your passions. One man who was able to preserve that passion was Jordan Matter, a New York-based photographer who came out with a book entitled, Dancers Amongs Us, last 2012.

The whole theme of the book is capturing moments; the moments in life that, although are routine for us, can be blissful and significant. His muses for the project were dancers.
In an interview with DS2dio 360, Matter described dancers as “the ideal people to photograph” because of their artistry and expressiveness. He believed that “dancers are storytellers,” which is why he chose them as his collaborators.
Speaking through your body

Actions speak louder than words in this book. Page after page, you'll see dancers leaping, defying gravity, doing amazing poses, and even cheating death--each one telling a story that shows you how colorful life can be, if you only know how to live it properly.
With the process of capturing these amazing photographs, they were done in what Matter calls "gorilla mode" wherein everything is done in real-time. Meaning, everything that is captured on camera is exactly what's happening in the moment. No tricks, no photoshop, and no special effects.
"There were very few shots that were easy. More often than not, it was very difficult because it was dangerous, because nothing was photoshopped," he said. 
He also described it to be a very collaborative process between him and his storytellers. "I would send out a tweet or a Facebook post, saying I'd be in this place and local dancers would just come and we'd do just do it," Matter said when I interviewed him last 2013 via Skype.

Location was another challenge for Matter during his shoots. “You know, I never asked permission, so we would sneak into places and very often police would arrive,” he added. This, I feel, added a bit more authenticity to the photographs because they really did capture what it was like to live in that moment. What you see is literally what you get. 

“How far do you want to take reality?”

Plenty of other photographers surely have thought of the same concept; sure they have the dancer holding a pose, the lighting, and the beautiful background, but unlike Matter, they weren't able to do anything other than get the viewer to say "wow." 
“I think it's a great compliment, although, the element that they were usually missing was the story,” Matter said. In his book, each picture, each chapter, is relatable to at least one person’s life. They depict a moment in life that, although it does not necessarily show what you look like, expresses an emotion or a thought you had during that one moment. 

The book is filled with different chapters-such as loving, playing, grieving, working, etc.-that beautifully capture the different fascets of life. Matter says it's all about "how far you're willing to take or exaggerate reality."
They say a picture's worth a thousand words; and it takes a very talented, daring, and passionate photographer to be able to do just that. 
This book made me believe that we should never stop dreaming, even as we grow older. But overall, this book made me fall in love with dance again. It’s something definitely worth reading, even if you're not a dancer; Perfect for anyone who wants to tap into their inner-child and re-ignite that passion they once had. 

Since then, Matter has  published several follow up books, such as Dancers After DarkTiny Dancers Among UsAthletes Among Us, Circus Among Us, and Uncovered. In just a short amount of time. Matter has proven to be one artist everyone should keep an eye on. I can't wait to see more of his work.

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