San Diego City Beat
Border Shootings by Kinsee Morlan

"... Roughly two years ago, Scott Belding made his way down the coast of Baja California from the Bay Area. After decades with one foot in the dance world as a director and producer and the other quickly gaining traction as a well-known dance photographer (especially in the belly- and tribal-dance genres), he felt the urge to move to Mexico, focus mainly on his photography and set up a space that would serve as a refuge where dancers could escape and eventually return to the U.S. with a unique portrait.

“I wanted to create an environment where artists can come to relax, rest, recharge their creative batteries, and, in that same process, we can take our time to do a photo shoot,” Belding explained over the phone as he drove to Hollywood to photograph a dancer during the three-hour window she had available between performances. “People in the dance profession are so busy in their daily lives.”

So, what Belding now calls “Baja Sessions” was born, and he’s since photographed several dancers from the U.S. juxtaposed against the recognizable backdrops of Tijuana, Punta Banda and other locations in his neck of the woods. He locates iconic Baja imagery—vibrant street art, architectural ruins and even zonkeys (donkeys painted as zebras)—and strives to contrast the dancers against the scenery. The work often exhibits a surreal, dark-fantasy aesthetic that helps to make the dancers pop in the foreground; their bodies and the frozen moment become even more impressive and dramatic through Belding’s lens.

Belding has also quickly built connections to the Tijuana dance scene and has photographed some of the city’s top talent. Looking through his portfolio is a whirlwind tour of dance happening below the border... "