I have spent years around dancers, as a dance Mum and a photographer, and I have learned that dancers like (and need) to be prepared. So, I have put together a few tips I’ve picked up along the way, to help you get the most from your dance shoot.
Whether your shoot is a fun shoot to show off your skills, or a portfolio shoot that you need for an audition, it helps to be prepared. So, firstly…
Have a look at other images – Go online, look through books and magazines. Is there a particular style or ‘look’ you like? I find Pinterest to be particularly useful. When my dancers book a shoot, a pinterest board is started so we can share ideas. It’s a great way to communicate to your photographer, exactly what you want the images to look like. Saying that, each photographer will have a particular style, and their own strengths. So when choosing your photographer, find one who’s style you like. Use the images you find, for guidance only, and don’t just recreate what someone else has previously done. You are unique as a dancer, and your images should reflect that.
Know what you need – If your images are for an audition, make sure you know exactly what you need. If your photographer is a dance specialist, they should have an idea what you need, but check the information you have, write it down and take it with you. When I am shooting for a portfolio, I like to do the ‘required’ shots about halfway into the shoot, once the dancer is completely relaxed and fully warmed up.
Prepare your costumes and makeup – If you are doing your own hair and makeup, make sure you allow yourself enough time to get ready. Pack the costumes and accessories you need, and it always helps to take some black plain wear, as you can mix and match it with your other items. Have an idea as to what order you are wearing your costumes, bearing in mind, your time is limited. You can’t take everything!
Be Realistic – Work within your own skills and strengths. If you are not a ballerina, don’t bring pointe shoes. Every dancer has something unique and beautiful to offer. If there is a particular move or pose you want to achieve, rehearse it before hand, to be certain it is within your skill set. The middle of a dance shoot is not the time to be trying out new skills. You could end up frustrated, wasting your shoot time and at the worse, injured.
Invite your dance teacher – Your dance teacher probably knows your skills and strengths better than you do, and how to get the best from you! They will work with the photographer to achieve the strongest images possible. They are also brilliant at reminding you to take a break, which leads me to the next point.
Take bottles of water and snacks – You will be working hard to get the images you want. You need to keep hydrated and your energy levels high. (I do tend to have a stash of haribos and custard creams, but I can’t promise that I won’t eat them before my dancer arrives. Best to take some). Dancers are notorious perfectionists, and will insist on redoing a move over and over, until the captured image is exactly as they want. If I see my dancer becoming tired or frustrated, I will refuse to shoot again until they take five, have a drink and a re-group, and feel ready to go again. It normally does the trick!
Get a good night’s sleep – Ensure you are well rested the night before, so you are refreshed and ready to go!
Have fun with it!! – Most dancers are used to being in the spotlight and are very comfortable in front of the camera. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy the experience. I normally end up in fits of giggles with my dancers, me ‘demonstrating’ what I want them to do normally sets them off, and we usually have a few hilarious out takes!
I hope this list is useful. The only other thing that I would perhaps add, is to make a playlist and take it with you. If there is a particular move from some choreography to a certain song, it will help to have that song playing. And I always find having my favourite music playing, keeps me relaxed and my mood positive!
If you have any comments, queries or feedback, get in touch. I will be happy to chat!