5 tips to nail your next dance shoot

Whether for Senior portraits, competition team, or your personal social media page, dance photo shoots are becoming more popular every day.  But for dancers who are used to performing on stage in front of a live audience, modeling in front of a camera can be a completely new experience.  Here are 5 tips to help you nail your next dance shoot:

1. Do your research: Look up photographers whose dance photos inspire you.  Dance photography is a unique style, so you want to make sure you’re working with a photographer who has experience photographing movement and has the equipment to do so.  Check out Instagram or ask your dance teacher or peers for photographer recommendations.  Before your shoot, make sure you sit down to talk with the photographer and get on the same page—share your Pinterest board of inspiration, discuss why you want to shoot (for college/conservatory auditions, high school graduation, or just for personal use), and convey your overall goals for the shoot.  Even more than still photography, in dance photography the dancer and photographer must act as a team in order to capture the magic of the movement.

2. Keep moving: Of course, you can brainstorm some of your favorite and most flattering poses—Show off a scorpion if you have great flexibility or strike an arabesque to display your ballet technique.  But also allow yourself to improvise and dance through different positions.  Movement is often what makes a dance photo so organic and magical—when an ephemeral, artistic moment of motion is captured on camera.  So give yourself permission to dance as the photographer is shooting and you’ll be amazed by the final proofs.

3. Plan your looks: Bring lots of options to the shoot—from leotards and dancewear to flowing dresses and everyday casual outfits.  Remember to pack accessories like hats, jewelry, scarves, props, and a bunch of shoes (but if you’re shooting outdoors, only bring dance shoes that you don’t mind getting a little roughed up!).

4. Practice self-care: Beauty starts from the inside, so be sure to take extra good care of yourself during the week leading up to your photo shoot.  Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night, drink plenty of water, and eat nourishing foods to help you look and feel your best for the big day.

5. Exude confidence: It’s easier said than done, but remember that this photoshoot is really your time to shine.  Don’t try to look exactly like anyone else.  Show off your strengths and what makes you unique and beautiful.  Bring your best friend or a family member to your shoot to make you feel more at ease.  Pack your wireless speakers and create a playlist of your favorite music to get you in the groove.  The more comfortable and confident you feel, the better that will translate to your photos.


*photo: Jenifer Dillow by James Jin

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