Last minute calls are the best...especially when they are to travel to a place to shoot something amazing just as a few weeks ago ESPN called us to shoot the Black Hill Powwow in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Thousands of Native Americans from all tribal affiliations gathered inside the convention center to dance for three days straight of competition. There was an added urgency as the pipeline protest happened a few hours away at Standing Rock. It was a beautiful event to witness, learn about styles of dance and music, but more important to document the community, culture, and celebration.
While many powwows happen outside, shooting one inside posed some visual challenges, and luckily catwalk experience came in handy and access to overhead opened up some opportunity to shoot directly above the event. On the last night of the shoot, we set-up lights in one of the darkest back stairwells and uses textured cement to do a portrait series of female dancers who were going to be featured on ESPNW.
These are important times politically and being able to witness the Black Hill Powwow (an event once illegal) was a lucky and fortunate gig. Admittedly, 48 hours isn't enough to dig deep enough into issues surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline, being able to document an event related to it and open some eyes to a tiny slice of life of these dancers - both young and old - made for a time not soon forgotten.