IDTA Nationwide Medallist of the Year

As a fairly dance mad family we all headed up to Blackpool last weekend as my son and daughter had both qualified for and were competing in the IDTA Nationwide Medallist of the year competition. Its always a fairly fun affair, a huge build up in the months beforehand at the Diamonds, the dance school we attend followed by us all going away together with the majority staying in the same hotel.

I don’t specialise in sports or dance photography, but with my own children competing and facing a day of watching the school compete its a chance to try my hand at something new. Besides, I want pictures of my children dancing and the official photographers website over at dancesport photography doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. I mean, do they know people are not actually Blue or is it some kind of artistic interpretation?

Seeing the work likely to be on offer to the school I decide to shoot for everybody and find a nice little area with a clear view of the dance floor to shoot from. If I had been shooting this ‘professionally’ I would have moved around the bottom Left and top Right corner depending on if it was the Male or Female being judged in order to ensure I could capture them roughly facing towards the camera as they move around anti-clockwise with the male on the inside of the circle. As it was I just wanted to get some images for the parents and from my position of elevation I could at least isolate the couples against the floor on many occasions.

The inside of a ballroom does present some challenges in that there is very limited ambient light and its not really appropriate to use flash all day long. Its always going to be a compromise between boosting ISO to get a high enough shutter speed to freeze action and not boosting ISO too high to preserve image quality. A fast lens and full frame camera helps but will be beyond financial reach of most, even the official photographer didn’t have a full frame camera!

In the end I opted for a shutter speed around 1/100th of a second to 1/125th and an ISO between 1600 and 2000. I wouldn’t normally recommend going above 1600 on a APS-C sized camera unless you intend to downsample later as its likely to generate too much noise. For my lens choice I had opted to use my Nikon 70-200 F4 VR for the weight saving over the F2.8. The F2.8 would have allowed me to shoot with either twice as fast a shutter speed or half the ISO with the penalty that it is considerably heavier. Bearing in mind I was on holiday I decided to give myself a break and opt for the easy F4. Had I been shooting professionally however, I would have opted for the F2.8 or possibly even an 85mm F1.8 if I could get close enough to the action in the ballroom and let couples come to me at my fixed location and change to a zoom for the Latin when couples are less predictable.

Anyway, for a fun days shooting and taking it easy on myself I’m quite pleased with the results.

Mums & Dads and dancers if you want the link to the full gallery (about 700 images – I was only there up until about 3pm) where you can download and use the images as you wish please let me know via Facebook or email and I will post you a link.


  • natalie del puerto
    natalie del puerto
    Apr 15 2018
    Please could you send me the link for the photos from Saturdays Ballroom and Latin finals at the Empress Ballroom. Our daughter was dancing in the 6-8s catogory. She was candidate number 1 if you have any pictures of her please send me them. Thankyou.

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: