What do you enjoy the most about working with young performers and dancers at IDI?
I enjoy moving around with them, because in the end, I am dancing with them. In a way, I do weird dance moves in order to accommodate the camera to find the best point of view.
With young performers, it is different because it puts less pressure on me. If I work with very experienced dancers they would expect experience in cinematography. IDI is very particular at the moment about working with young performers but in the future I would love to work with very experienced dancers, it can happen even now. The fact that up until now they have been primarily young, puts us more at ease. It puts less heaviness on the responsibility, allows me to be more relaxed.
Do you want to tell us about your fondest memory of working with IDI?
You guys are like a reality show of IDI! But generally, I really liked recording with Roger who is a Catalan videographer and more experienced than me. The teamwork between him, Harriet and I at Fabra i Coats last October were very fun days.
How has your journey towards photography in Dance and Performance begun?
I started photography when I was around 15 years old but professionally at 20, when I shifted from art direction in advertising, which I was studying, to photography as I became an assistant of an advertising photographer. I realised I enjoy creating the images myself rather than doing something for someone else. I also always enjoyed performance, music, and dancing. I watched this contemporary performance artist documentary, Pina Bausch, and I was always fascinated by it. But I was a spectator, I never considered it professionally. Then I met Aldana, and she recommended me to Harriet, then I met her and I enjoyed the first gig, and now here we are.
What fascinates you about capturing something with a camera in Dance and what are your favourite themes?
In dance, what fascinated me the most are the different camera perspectives. If you are watching a movie, usually the sight that you have is possible to anyone who has been there. You see the same place, the same things happening, but with dance, the audience doesn’t see what the camera sees, because you can go very low, very high, around… And that combination of the camera’s movement with the actual movement of the dancers I think is unique to the scenography of this art. That is what motivates me to better dialogue with the dancer so we work together and a third thing can come up from this.
I am also a rock climber and I enjoy doing it, but I mostly focus more on the climbing itself because doing camera and climbing at the same time can be complicated. Another thing I am very passionate about is veganism and I am putting the most effort there in creating content, in the form of video photography and writing. However, I primarily come from photography, video came a little later, and I enjoy it as much as photography, but I see myself more as a photographer.
You were previously a cultural manager at Espronceda, is that correct? What did you like about strategic management and what do you believe is different from photography and videography other than being more on site for the shoot?
Yes, when I came to Barcelona in 2017 to learn something other than photography and video, because in Brasilia where I am from, I was working full time as a photographer and I wanted to learn something new. I didn’t really have a background in management, I only had my own studio with an assistant and my own things to manage so this experience helped me to coordinate. But I learned it along the way and it was a really great experience and I spent 3 years there. But I really missed dedicating myself to creating, and that is why now I am happy to be more independent so I can pursue my project in veganism and at the same time work for clients.
Primarily, and Harriet will like this one, one of the things I took from IDI is to better manage the gimbal which I bought for the job because I needed a stable image and I don’t like a shaky hand movement. It’s okay depending on the context but primarily when capturing dance, it should be stable. But then also, as I already said, I really enjoy capturing movement with movement. Videographing for IDI has given me the opportunity to practice more of it than I already had done before for minor projects like music videos or short films but not really with dancers doing performances that are that complex.
How do you intend to build your practice alongside IDI?
Speaking internationally, I hope we can do international projects, because I really enjoy travelling, and continue shooting dancers. Apart from that, growing professionally, meeting more people and maybe being able one day to shoot a video clip for a major music artist. That would be very interesting actually, recording a real start one day is a good idea.
Can you tell us about the effect that Covid had on your work, particularly within the project with IDI in October?
The IDI job was one of the main jobs of the year, because we were coming out of the quarantine times. Only to be out there was amazing already. We were sometimes even confused about whether to use masks in certain situations. We were even told off by one of the professors walking inside the building being without a mask. I think maybe two or three other dancers were without a mask too and she said that we can’t do that, because it makes us look like fools, and she was right. This contact with Covid-19 is still very similar this year, although slightly better. We are learning as we go. I would also like to point out that it is important for us to think about why we are in this situation and what is the long-term solution. Vaccine is going to help us but it is not going to solve it fully. Until we do not address the problem and find its root, we are going to keep having it.
Do you intend to implement any new technology to your current set?
A drone would be nice, we talked about how interesting it could be to have drone shots. So, that could add a lot to the IDI cinematography. In terms of new technology, there is also another thing I have been studying and it is photogrammetry, which is a technique used in Matrix also. It is when we have several cameras around the subject and they fire at the same time, so that they allow you to create the ultimate effect. If we think about that for the dancers, it would have been great. I am sure in Barcelona there is a possibility to rent the technology and do a shooting with that. It is something new to me; I know what it is conceptually and technically but I don’t have practise with it.
It is challenging to add new technology but in these situations it helps to have someone to teach you. Most of what I learned in photography and videography was from someone teaching me, it was not so much the watching of tutorials online or stuff like that. So, because of that I became a teacher and I teach photography in areas I am an expert. So whenever we have a new technology, that human bridge is important and to acknowledge one’s limits and the will to go beyond those limits. Just recognising them, saying them out loud but also asking for guidance and help to overcome the gap between the limit we want to meet and the one we have now. After putting in new practise, the new technology becomes a new tool. The beginning is usually the hardest but with practise, with time and someone that is an expert on that, is always interesting.
How different is it for you to depict performers and dancers from any other photography genre?
With dancers, apart from the movement thing we mentioned before, I try to interfere less. For example, whenever I am shooting a short film or an interview, I can interact more, I ask questions and direct them more. With dancers I tend, so far, to observe more and respect their ideas and movement, because they will know better. My position in photography and videography of dancers is more of an observer than in some other areas. Of course, it depends on the scenario, if it is a music video with a certain purpose and specific set, I would be more direct and talkative to what I envision. Although, from what I saw working with IDI, it is more to capture what they are doing.
Vitor Schietti IDI collaborator, videographer, photographer 2021