There has to be a trampoline or some sort of off-screen equipment that photographer Mike Reid uses to launch dancers into orbit.
With serene expressions, they appear to float effortlessly over public spaces around Boise, including Downtown intersections, in front of the Capitol and even the Boise River.
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“Never,” Reid says.
His photos capture dancers’ power, grace and beauty in pinnacle moments. That they’re out in the world — not on stage or in a studio — grabs viewers.
“Being out of their element makes for such a fascinating combination,” said Ted Challenger, who sought out Reid for a two-month gallery exhibition in the art display room at one of his Downtown Boise bars, the Amsterdam Lounge, 609 W. Main St.
Amsterdam hosted a First Thursday featuring Reid on Aug. 3. His exhibition, which runs through the end of September, features 12 of Reid’s dancer photos on canvas. They are all available for purchase.
A recent photo shoot that Reid did with a pair of young dancers Downtown drew many onlookers who were impressed by the girls’ leaping and other gymnastic abilities.
“I’m not going to try that,” one passerby muttered to her male companion after she saw 16-year-old Kylie Larsen do an aerial (cartwheel without hands) into the intersection of 8th and Idaho streets when the light was red for oncoming traffic.
Reid sat on the ground with his camera. He’s often looking at the dancers, not the camera, when he’s shooting.
“Sometimes I just set the camera on the ground,” he said. “I just kind of know where they’re at. That’s how I get them so high in the air.”
He said people don’t believe he doesn’t “machine-gun click,” shooting a rapid series of photos, hoping to get the best moment. He shoots one photo per move.
“There’s a moment in every move. You can’t just machine-gun it, or you’ll always be early or late,” he said.
“His photography caught my eye a couple of times — I said, why don’t we do one [show] where you’re working with the dancers?” Challenger recalled. “I think this is your forte.”
Reid is a portrait photographer who will shoot just about anything, including weddings, senior pictures (graduation), families, models and head shots. The only things he doesn’t shoot are “babies and real estate.”
“No matter what I’m taking pictures of, I’m having blast,” he said. “It’s never boring for me. I’m always having fun.”
Reid, 61, dabbled in photography when he was a young adult — while studying social science at Boise State University and during three years in the Army in Germany — but got serious about it about 15 years ago, the first time his brother-in-law showed him a digital camera.
“Right at that second, I was hooked,” he said. “The next day, I went out and bought a [digital] camera and never looked back.”
At first, he focused his lens on birds, then branched out into landscapes. Afflicted with perfectionism, he soon found himself sitting in the dark and through weekends in remote locales, trying to get a few good images.
He eventually found his way to portrait photography, which allowed him flexibility in scheduling. He developed expertise in dance photography by shooting live shows for Idaho Dance Theatre and Ballet Idaho.
Until about two years ago, his day job was as a corporate purchasing manager. He did photography on the side, until his employer closed its Idaho offices and moved them to Colorado.
That’s when he decided to try to do photography full time. He said he mainly gets clients through word-of-mouth.
“I have a whole Mike [photo] album in my phone, a thousand photos,” said Ramos, who enjoys performing for the camera and the small crowds that inevitably gather. “I like getting to meet new people who are amazed at what I can do.”
Want to contact Reid? Call or text: 208-371-0049.