Imagine a ballerina, clad in a white leotard and tutu, gracing the stage of the Durham Performing Arts Center. Now imagine that same ballerina dancing around in the streets of downtown Raleigh. Tim Lytvinenko captured those images and many more in his 15th Anniversary Book for the Carolina Ballet.
Lytvinenko has had a passion for photography since he was a child. He worked as a photo editor for the Technician while he studied computer science at NC State and had a few internships at newspapers after college. He graduated in 2006 with an engineering degree.
“I knew that’s what I was going to pursue for a while,” Lytvinenko says.
One First Friday, Lytvinenko happened to meet some of the dancers from the Carolina Ballet running around downtown Raleigh doing a photo shoot. The dancers wanted to bring a unique marketing strategy to the Ballet, so Lytvinenko thought that taking pictures in urban spaces instead of on stage was one way to do it.
“We tried to go around to familiar places in Raleigh,” Lytvinenko says. “Since they weren’t on stage, it was a lot easier for people to connect with them. They weren’t these icons. They were just normal people.”
Lytvinenko’s 15th Anniversary Book contains much more than just images of ballerinas frolicking through the busy streets of Raleigh. The book features shots of the ballerinas on stage, but also contains glimpses into their lives behind the curtain.
“Every night when I’m shooting backstage, it’s this kind of push-pull because I’m trying to get closer to shoot, but also leave them enough room to get ready for their performance,” Lytvinenko says.
During the 15th season, Lytvinenko took more than 100,000 photos over the course of about 60 shows. He narrowed them down to less than 200 for the book. Lytvinenko’s friend from NC State, Ben McNeely, helped him with the written content and editing of the 15th Anniversary Book.
“I couldn’t have done it without him,” Lytvinenko says.
McNeely, a 2005 NC State grad who works as a producer for News 14 Carolina, and Lytvinenko worked together at Technician and have been close friends ever since. Lytvinenko says they have worked together on projects before and even have some projects in the works this year.
“There aren’t too many people from college that I keep up with like him,” Lytvinenko says.
Lytvinenko (left, in a self portrait) keeps up with a few other friends from his time at Technician, including Ray Black, who helped with the copy editing of the 15th Anniversary Book. Lytvinenko says he still does a lot of photography work with Black as well.
“They aren’t just people from Technician anymore,” Lytvinenko says. “They’re people from my life.”
Lytvinenko plans to continue working with his friends McNeely and Black on future projects as well as with some of the dancers from the Carolina Ballet. He currently shoots for Walter Magazine, and has a residency at Chuck’s in downtown Raleigh, where some of his work is displayed year-round.