Dayron Vera: The Desert Flower Photoshoot
The Desert Flower photoshoot originally wasn’t an idea I had when I landed in Phoenix for The Portrait Masters Conference, even with me planning my main stage presentation and bringing all the costumes.
I think it was the next morning as I crossed the parking lot of the hotel on my way to the auditorium that I felt the scorching heat, a heat that reminded me of my arrival in Madrid 10 years ago. A heat so stifling that the air doesn’t seem to enter your nose and you practically don’t sweat to cool the body. It was then that everything came to mind and took shape.
The idea was simple, I had not flown over 6,000 miles to only have a 45 minutes photoshoot, where I knew I could not deliver everything I needed and the answer was very simple, I needed to create. I needed to go into the desert at more than 100 degrees and create something that represented my feeling and why I was there.
The costume concept was a skirt that with my wife Carmen had repainted and turned into a couture piece. The idea of using plaster to create the accessory for the head was Carmen’s and it perfectly complimented the makeup we had decided on.
While waiting for my rehearsal for the next day’s lecture I thought – if we go to the desert and use it as a location, I would be able to complete the story. Aside from the costume, the makeup, the hair all being linked to the desert, I had a flower in front of me. And that’s where my concept was born.
The day after my keynote, we got up at 5 am and recreated everything…the plaster on Carmen’s head, the makeup – thanks to the makeup artist agreeing to get up at 6 am and helping us recreate the look all over again. Everything was ready!
Gerson, my friend, and photographer who works side-by-side with Sue was the one who drove the car into the desert. I said upon arriving that I had a sense of immensity. We left the car, moving quickly as to not waste time. And while in a hurry I stopped for a moment and said to Carmen, “wait. don’t walk, what do you feel?”
I felt nothing, a huge emptiness, an overwhelming silence, I confess that I was afraid of that. I think that feeling was what I used to take the thread of the session, the story – a flower running away from what would be an inevitable death, that place, arid, dry, hot, was not a home for something so delicate and fragile.
From all my feelings I wanted to convey – this incredible landscape with cactus, thorns – some of which ended up getting stuck in Carmen’s ballet points shoes, this all exceeded any expectations that I could have had before arriving in the desert – The still life of a flower, a perfect way to represent all of its details.
Starting ballet at the age of 10, Dayron Vera has devoted his life to dancing. In 2001, he joined the National Ballet School in Havana before becoming a professional ballet dancer in 2014. During his ballet career, Dayron earned multiple honors including Principal Dancer at the age of 23.
Dayron discovered photography while taking portraits of fellow dancers waiting backstage. The intimate connection felt throughout Dayron’s ballet portraits comes from his experience on both sides of the camera and his profound passion for dance. Currently, Dayron lives in Barcelona with his wife Carmen, where together they own a high-performance ballet school.