Q+A with Jacob’s Pillow Festival Photographer Christopher Duggan | Facebook Live

by | Jul 23, 2018 | Video Tip | 0 comments

I went Live with my husband, Christopher Duggan, to talk about his creative portrait sessions with artists at Jacob’s Pillow.

As the Festival Photographer, Christopher is in charge of documenting the Festival all summer long, but he also manages to find the time to make creative portraits with artists who come to visit and perform.

We went Live right before Christopher was headed to meet up with some of the dancers of Batsheva: The Young Ensemble for a shoot. There was a certain excitement to have these dancers at the Pillow – all of the dancers in the company are athletic and amazing.


Christopher discusses the challenges of scheduling his creative portrait shoots with dancers.

He prefers to make portraits when the lighting is warm and has a nice, natural glow, but that’s usually around showtime so scheduling with the dancers can be difficult!

He explains how he decides on a specific location for a session.

He showcases the iconic Ted Shawn Theatre quite often because he wants to make sure that the audience who views his portraits are able to learn about the history of the Pillow.

He talks about what happens with his photos after he makes them.

Jacob’s Pillow uses them for marketing purposes – in brochures, flyers, on social media… all over! And, at the end of every summer, Christopher selects some of his favorite portraits and creates a special edition soft cover book that’s sold in the Pillow Store on campus!!

He describes what it’s like to collaborate with different artists and how he determines what they’re going do during the session.

Sometimes they work independently, other times they work as a company. Either way, Christopher explains that he has to be sensitive to the company to make sure that the portraits they create together align with their brand/image. He always wants to make sure to represent the company in a respectful way.

Christopher Duggan during an Inside/Out Performance at Jacob’s Pillow by Pillow Photography Intern Noor Eemaan Jaffery.

“I always ask people who visit Jacob’s Pillow, ‘What do you think when you think of the Pillow?’ and they usually say they think of nature, greenery, trees, open sky, etc. I love to reflect the Pillow in all of the photos that I make during my time here.”

You can find more of Christopher’s beautiful creative portraits on his website & on his newest Instagram Account!


You can watch the full Q+A on Facebook Live above. I go Live once a month, but this summer I’ve been going Live every week! There are so many amazing people to talk to at Jacob’s Pillow!!! Catch up on my recent Facebook Live videos and stay tuned for more!

Nel Shelby is Owner & Filmmaker for Nel Shelby Productions, her New York City-based company dedicated to dance videography and editing. Nel shares her mission to preserve and promote the art of dance with her husband, Christopher Duggan, a dance and wedding photographer. They collaborate on projects with dance companies of worldwide renown, up-and-coming choreographers, dance educators, dance schools and more. Nel is Video Producer at Jacob’s Pillow and Vail Dance Festival and is also the proud Director and Producer of PS DANCE! — a New York Emmy-nominated documentary about dance education in NYC’s public schools.