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Begoña Cao, ballerina - Nigel Hillier, 2008

1 March 2015

This portrait of Begoña Cao, principal ballerina with the English National Ballet, was commissioned by The Independent.

I arranged to meet the dancer at the Palace Theatre in Manchester where she was performing. As usual the PR people said "You've got five minutes, she's very busy rehearsing". I set up the Nikon flash on a stand with a brolly and waited for the diva to arrive. When she turned up, she was relaxed and friendly and we got on really well. After half an hour Begoña said she had to go to mend her ballet shoes before the next rehearsal. I asked if she could stay and do the repairs in the red seats. She agreed and and we shot the last few frames of her sewing her shoes. To keep the lighting simple I stuck with the single flash and let the background fall into darkness.

Nigel Hillier has worked professionally since completing the Documentary Photography course at Newport in 1990, then headed by David Hurn. His clients are a mix of national newspapers and magazines plus corporate, fashion and commercial businesses. Nigel has a studio midway between Manchester and Leeds but shoots mostly on location throughout Britain.

See more work by Nigel Hillier

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