Nothing heralds the advent of spring like a romp through a sunlit front yard. "Hula Hoop Dancing," by freelance photographer Manuello Paganelli, captures the joyful anticipation of the warm days to come. The idea for the image came spontaneously during a shoot for a Vespa scooter ad near Paganelli's home in North Hollywood, Calif. While taking a break from photographing a model in various poses on a scooter, one of his assistants suggested that Paganelli experiment with some of the playful props they had brought to the shoot, including a number of colorful hula hoops. As the model struggled to smile at the camera and keep all the hoops spinning at once, Paganelli started photographing with his Mamiya RZ67 and 90mm lens, using reflectors to enhance the available early-morning light.
Paganelli shot two rolls of the model, Elena Kulikova, with her full body in the frame before realizing that he was focusing on the wrong part of the action. "It's like dancing – it's all about body movement," he says. "I didn't want her pretty face to distract the viewer's eye from the hoops."
He shot another roll isolating the movements of the model's torso before coming up with this dynamic image, capturing nearly all the hoops in the air. Although it was not used in the Vespa campaign and has not been published until now, the impromptu photo has begun generating some interest in Paganelli's stock portfolio.
Paganelli's career has taken some unexpected turns as well. After studying for a career in medicine, he developed a friendship with Ansel Adams and decided to switch to photography. He became an editorial photographer for the Chattanooga Times and began doing self-commissioned work in the 1990s, including an award-winning photography series about Cuba.
Today, Paganelli, who grew up in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Italy, continues to travel the world, shooting celebrities, business icons and fashion models for major magazines. Future projects include a beer commercial on location in Mexico City and a magazine cover story on actress Christine Lahti.
For more information about Paganelli and his images, visit his website at paganelliphotography.com.