tips for dancers

How to rock your dance photoshoot

Ten tips and tricks to know before your first shoot!

You've booked your first dance photoshoot or are thinking about it, but aren't sure what to expect and whether or not you will be able to pull off some of the crazy and beautiful poses you see on Instagram. Read on for tips on how to rock your very own dance shoot!

1. Research photographers
No matter who you are shooting with, hopefully they have photographed dancers before. Choosing a photographer that knows dancers, their movements, and what good technique looks like, means you can trust them during your shoot to help you look your best. Also, make sure you feel comfortable with the photographer and can tell them if you don't want to do a certain pose. You should never ever feel uncomfortable on a shoot!

ballet dancer in montreal botanical garden

2. Brainstorm poses or things you want to try, but don't get too attached.
Spend some time on instagram or pinterest looking at poses or photos that you are personally drawn to. Practice some of these poses in front of the mirror so you have an idea of how to move into them during the shoot. With any of these though, don't get super attached. Sometimes we see a pose we love but perhaps it's beyond our technical ability as a dancer just yet. Be okay with the idea that you won't get every pose you save. 

3. Know your strengths
Are you an amazing leaper or jumper? Is your extension to die for? Is your back super flexible? Sometimes a good (dance) friend can tell you your strengths if you find yourself having a hard time. By knowing your personal strengths you can tell them to the photographer so they can help you look amazing.

4. Think 2D, not 3D
I tell this to almost every dancer within the first few minutes of a shoot. We're making a 3D art form (dance) and translating it into a 2D art form (photography). So while you are planning and on the day of your shoot, think about where your body and arms and legs are in relation to the camera. Imagine you are a silhouette or that someone is watching you dance from the last row of a theater. Body parts can disappear or be shortened depending on placement. Honestly, this is something the photographer should always be helping you with during the shoot, but it's great to know and think about yourself as well.

ballet dancer in middle of city street with sun setting behind her in montreal

5. Make a playlist
A short one! Choose a handful of songs that you know pumps you up or will really get you in the mood for the shoot you want to create. Even I'll be dancing along sometimes while shooting! (Full disclaimer: I don't always use music on a shoot if we're moving locations super fast, but it's still good to have a few songs ready just in case.)

6. Choose comfortable clothes
The dreaded question... what should I wear?? Wear something you feel comfortable dancing in! I personally tell dancers, street clothes or dance clothes, it's up to you, but you must be able to move well and it shouldn't hide your lines or form. If you are opting to wear something like a leotard and your shoot is outdoors around town, don't pick a leotard that isn't comfortable or that rides up! It will translate in your photos that you are not comfortable as you worry about having a wardrobe malfunction.

7. Drink water & get sleep the night before
This is a general rule the night before ANY photoshoot. (I'm not kidding.) Hydrate and sleep!!!! You want to be feeling your best and the water will help your skin glow the next day.

8. Don't forget...
Make sure you pack water, a snack, and one extra pair of dance shoes. During the shoot your shoes will take a beating if you are shooting outdoors. Many pointe shoes have completely died, never to be worn again, on shoots. So make sure you bring a backup pair in case the first pair die earlier than you expect. (It has happened!)

heels dancer in montreal park

I'll say it again for the people in back, STRETCH! If the photographer doesn't tell you right off the bat to start stretching, tell them you need 5-10 minutes to get warmed up. Take it easy for your first 15-30 mins of shooting. Start with simpler poses/movements and work your way into the big stuff; your body will thank you later.

10. Relax and have fun
Remember to relax during your shoot. Things may not always go as planned, but things may also turn out even better than you could have hoped for. Have fun and be yourself, don't be afraid of showing your personality in your photos as well.


Have you already rocked your own dance photoshoot?

Do you have any other tips for fellow dancers? Leave a comment below to help each other out!