Photographer Brad Walls is known for his creative aerial photography of ballet dancers. His work is already remarkable, but he just took things to a new level in his new series, Swan Lake Meets Salt Lake. Intrigued by the concept of exploring the light and dark sides of humanity, Walls sought out a unique location. This led him to Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats, where he photographed dancer Sasonah Huttenbach.
In the images, Huttenbach, a member of the New York City Ballet's Corp de Ballet, takes on the dual role of the black and the white swan. When Walls pitched the idea of the project, she was on board immediately. “I connected with the idea,” she shares. “The white and black swans depicted on the salt reflected my inner conflicts that I’ve grappled with throughout my journey as a ballet dancer living between Japan and now the U.S. Ballet has given me structure and a form of expression I adore, but such discipline is a fight against my curiosity of the world.”
Walls conducted the photoshoot entirely from the air, with the dramatic natural backdrop working exactly as he'd hoped. Creatively using Huttenbach's shadow, we see a new being projected on the white salt flats. This only reinforces the duality of the Swan Lake story.
“Depending on your state of mind, your shadow could offer comfort or reflect a darker mood,” Walls muses.
By taking ballet outside of its traditional theater setting, the photographer is also making a statement about dance. For him, it's clear that the human body can exist in harmony with nature, and the synchronicity of these images only proves this point.
Swan Lake Meets Salt Lake is one of several series set to be included in Walls' forthcoming book, which is due out in 2024.