Dancing for a Cause: Cancer Council’s Stars of Nowra Fundraising Event

AMENDED 15/06/2024: To include the gallery of edited photos from the event.

NOTE: This is a non-exhaustive gallery of finalised photos from the night. There are more + highlights available to view on my project page.

Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to photograph the Cancer Council’s Stars of Nowra event at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre. It was an evening full of excitement, entertainment, and a chance to put my photography skills to the test.

The Stars of Nowra

The Stars of Nowra is an annual dance gala organised by the Cancer Council to raise vital funds for people affected by cancer. It is part of the larger STARS community-driven dance event series held across New South Wales. This year’s event took place on Saturday, May 25th, with general entry opening at 5:30 pm and the show kicking off at 6:30 pm. The premise of the event is truly unique. All different kinds of people – local business owners, community leaders, and personalities from the Nowra region trade in their usual roles to become “stars” for a night. Over the course of 12 weeks leading up to the gala, these brave participants work tirelessly with professional dance instructors to choreograph and perfect routines across various dance styles. On the night itself, the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre transforms into a dazzling stage for these amateur dancers to showcase their newly acquired skills. From ballroom to contemporary, tap to hip-hop, the performances promise an entertaining evening of spectacular dance and pure, unadulterated fun.

A Night to Remember

As a photographer, the professionalism and attention to detail that went into organising this event immediately struck me. There were so many people involved in pulling the night together and keeping it all on schedule behind the scenes. The venue decorators beautifully decorated the venue with pretty table settings and mood lighting, creating the perfect backdrop for capturing stunning images. The catering was top-notch, with a delicious array of food and beverages to keep everyone energised throughout the night. But it was the little personal touches that really made me feel appreciated as a contributor to the event. Having my name displayed on a dressing room door and receiving a lovely bottle of local wine as a gift left me feeling truly valued and excited to be a part of this special occasion. While I spent little time backstage once the show started–I was far too busy capturing the night’s events–the experience was both nerve-wracking and exhilarating. With an event much larger than I had expected, I had to work well under pressure and rely on the skills I’ve honed over the years as a professional photographer.

Overcoming Lighting Challenges

One concern I had going into the event was the potential for majoritively blue lighting, which, when looking at images from past years, I figure is often used in line with the Cancer Council’s branding. While blue lighting can create a beautiful ambiance in person, it’s challenging to photograph well, making it difficult to achieve accurate white balance in post-processing. However, this turned out to be a non-issue, as the event organisers had clearly taken lighting into consideration. There was plenty of white lighting on stage, which made it much easier for me to capture the performances in their true colours and tones.

A Showcase of Local Talent

As the night progressed, the level of talent continuously blew me away on display. These were not professional dancers, but rather everyday members of the Nowra community who had dedicated countless hours to perfecting their routines. From high-energy group numbers to emotional solo performances, the acts covered a diverse range of styles and themes. One moment, I was capturing the infectious energy of a lively tap dance routine, and the next, I was mesmerised by a graceful contemporary piece that tugged at the heartstrings. It was a true showcase of local talent, and I felt incredibly fortunate to have a front-row seat to capture these special moments. The performances equally enthralled my partner, who joined me as my guest for the evening, and we both left with a newfound appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the participants.

Fundraising for a Cause

Beyond the entertainment value, the Stars of Nowra event had a much deeper purpose–to raise funds for the Cancer Council’s vital work in supporting people affected by cancer and promoting cancer prevention. Throughout the night, participants actively encouraged audience members to donate and support their fundraising efforts. The event organisers awarded prizes for categories such as Judges’ Choice, People’s Choice, Highest Fundraiser, Community Spirit, and Best Costume, creating a friendly sense of competition and motivating participants to exceed their fundraising efforts. Since its inception in 2016, the Stars of Nowra event has raised an incredible $1,000,000 for the Cancer Council. These funds have gone towards providing essential services like home help, transport to treatment, support lines, prevention programs, advocacy, research, and free financial, legal, and emotional support for those affected by cancer.

A Rewarding Experience

As a photographer, I always strive to capture the essence of an event while minimising the number of shots I take. As a general rule of thumb, processing and editing can take up to 3 times longer than the shoot, and I was at this event for about 6 hours. However, with so many captivating moments unfolding before my lens, I snapped away, ultimately ending up with around 1,800 photos to sort through and edit. While the post-production process will undoubtedly be time-consuming, it was all worth it for the opportunity to be a part of such a great cause and entertaining night. As I look back on the images, I’m filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing that I could capture the energy, emotion, and spirit of the Stars of Nowra event. Overall, the Cancer Council’s Stars of Nowra event was a resounding success, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to challenge my photography skills while contributing to an important cause. It was a night that will stay with me for years to come, and I look forward to the possibility of being involved in future events like this one.

Keep an eye out for the completed gallery of photos from this awesome night, but please be patient. I’ve got a mountain to climb!

Gallery: Stars of Nowra 2024

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Gallery: Stars of Nowra 2024

Performing Arts & Music

Whether it’s a live concert, theatrical production, or dance performance, Neesh Photography is excited and ready to capture the authentic energy and emotional experience of your artistic events. From subtle performer expressions to lively audience interactions, we’re here to document the raw and real moments that define your unique performances.