The Music to Life Series

June 25, 2015 Elastic Heart – Conceptual Photography by Jimmy Bui Posted In: Sia

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Music to Life Song of the Week: Elastic Heart by Sia

Elastic Heart is a song by recording artist Sia and it was released in 2013 on the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack. Though it was released a couple of years ago, I didn’t first hear it until this year. The song is about how a person copes with a crushing relationship and how she finds the strength to deal with the break up. One of the most devastating things that someone can deal with emotionally is a broken heart, and most of use deal with it alone. For my Music to Life image, I wanted to show someone in a state of self realization to a moment of pure strength after a break up. I saw the Nutcracker ballet with my wife a few years ago, and although it’s really not my thing I do admire the skill and strength that it requires to perform those amazing dance moves. It made sense to me to use a ballet dancer to showcase the high emotion and strength that is emitted in the song.

Well, I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart,
But your blade, it might be too sharp
I’m like a rubber band until you pull too hard,
Yeah, I may snap and I move fast
But you won’t see me fall apart
‘Cause I’ve got an elastic heart

I’ve got an elastic heart

Lyrics by Sia

ballerina dancing slow shutter drag effect conceptual photography fine art jimmy bui

Image is inspired by the song Elastic Heart by Sia as part of the Music to Life Conceptual Photography series by Jimmy Bui.

Conceptual Photography – How It Was Shot

The technique used in this shot is a combination of two methods: stroboscopic and shutter drag. Stroboscopic photography is a series of flashes fired sequentially in a single exposure and shutter drag is when you keep the shutter open long enough to record the ambient light. When the shutter is open for a longer period of time, motion blur will occur from either the subject moving or the camera moving. I definitely wanted motion blur for this picture, but I only wanted the subject to be blurred, so I set the camera on a tripod. I also wanted the subject to appear in focus at the beginning of the movement and at the very end of the movement. This is where the stroboscopic technique comes into play, though it’s a modified version. I placed one flash to the right of the dance, and one flash to the left of the dancer. Flash freezes movement, and since I only wanted the beginning and ending movements to be “frozen”, I fired off the flashes manually with a trigger right after I clicked the shutter button, and right before I released it.

Play “Elastic Heart”

If you’re interested in shooting a Music to Life series image, message me at and don’t forget to visit my website and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thank you so much! 


Elastic Heart by Sia

Jennifer Fleming

Canon 5D Mark III

Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art

Profoto B1


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Jimmy Bui

I am a wedding and conceptual portrait photographer based in Southern California. When I'm not shooting weddings, or planning my next weekly photo for my Music to Life series, you may find me at Disneyland or the zoo spending time with my beautiful wife and daughter.
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