by Sarah Dulong

As a photographer, I constantly strive to challenge myself to continue growing as an artist. When I create my own project, it is derived from my personal passions and what I find inspiring. That is how my “Dance//Salem” project came to life. It is thrilling to immerse myself in a project that is unconstrained by outside demands. While I feel fortunate to capture moments people will treasure, personal projects expand and re-energize my creative energy.

Salem has been my home for almost 15 years. My relationship with my city has evolved and deepened, particularly in my new chapter of parenting. I am experiencing parts of Salem that had previously been unknown to me as I explore the city with my kids, through their eyes. Together we participate in local events and discover our parks, beaches, and playgrounds. The photographer in me yearned to capture the beauty and uniqueness of our city. And the the portraitist in me wanted to find a way to integrate the individual within the environment.

As a child, I took dance lessons for many years and I have always been inspired by and drawn to the beauty and strength of dancers; capturing their beautiful movements and poses in my mind and imagining how I could capture it on film. My “Dance//Salem” project was born out of these combined interests: Street photography, dance, Salem, community. It has allowed me to showcase the beauty and strength of dance as well as the beauty, strength, and uniqueness of our city.

Perhaps the best part of this project has been meeting the incredible dancers who participate in it and with each session, I learn more about our city, dance, and photography:

I knew I had to do a picture with this clock and Linnea (the dancer featured in this photo) was all about making my clock photo dream come true. I love shopping at Modern Millie’s and then getting food, coffee, and treats for the kiddos at Front Street Coffeehouse and then relaxing on a bench and people watching down there. When we did this photo at the clock we were the ones people were watching that day.

The garden at the Ropes Mansion is gorgeous and feels like a hidden gem even though it’s a widely popular spot. It’s a beautiful place to take a deep breath to enjoy nature and a quiet moment in the city (plus it’s a beautiful place to take photos).

Of course I am a huge Hocus Pocus fan (and now my kids are also) so it’s always “Allison’s house” to us, too. (Yasmin the dancer featured is a student at APAA in Salem the same dance school my daughter also goes to.)

You really can’t talk about Salem without talking about Halloween. My family literally celebrates Halloween 31 days. The kids love trick or treating and it’s pretty fun for adults too. We all have a blast going downtown during the day time and seeing all the costumes. When my kids realized Halloween wasn’t going to happen normally this year there were a few tears but they also completely understood why and we said, “Don’t you worry we are a Salem family we know how to do Halloween and we will still make it a spooky fun time but we look forward to the day when we can celebrate it in the big way again.” Photo is of dancer Jade and the famous saxophone scary clown. I don’t know how long the clown has been doing this but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t see the clown down there making music.

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Sarah Dulong is a photographer specializing in portrait photography. She lives in Salem with her husband and their two children. Sarah has a background in childhood education and made a career shift in 2017 to start a photography business named Sarah Jennie Photography. Her work has been exhibited in Salem at The Ugly Mug and Front Street Coffeehouse. Dance//Salem has been featured on Creative North Shore’s Website, The Photographer’s Academy Online Magazine Dance Issue, Salem State University Dance Brochure and Shutterstock’s Blog of 8 Photographers on Shooting Beautiful Images of Dancers. To see more of her work, visit her website: https://sarahjenniephotography.com

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