Capturing natural photos illustrating dance's elegance, grace, and energy is as much an art form as dance. Numerous factors come into play: showcasing the unique strengths of individual dancers, incorporating props when necessary, and more. Knowing which poses work best for each dance style can significantly impact the outcome of your images and the satisfaction of your customers.
In this blog post, we will discuss important considerations when planning and executing dance photography in a volume setting. We’ll also share some pose inspiration for each dance style that can help you capture the beauty of the art form.
Things to Consider
In dance photography, your goal is to capture the essence of the art form. Taking a still photo that still somehow conveys movement can be challenging. As you prepare to capture images of a studio’s troupe, here are some key points you must keep in mind to be successful. If you’re a novice when it comes to dance, work with the school and ask for teachers to assist with posing on picture day. Alternatively, considere hiring older dance students or a professional dancer to assist on picture day.
- Dance Style: Each discipline has distinct poses and movements. Consider the genre of the dancer and ensure your chosen poses align with the aesthetic and essence of the style. We walk through example poses for each style of dance further in the article.
- Storytelling: Think of the emotion each dance style conveys and ensure your poses reflect that narrative. A powerful ballet piece could require a dramatic or expressive pose, whereas a soft, graceful pose may be more suitable for lyrical/modern dances.
- Composition: Don’t get so focused on the pose that you forget basic photography techniques. Consider the lines and shapes of your subjects’ bodies and limbs, then create visually appealing images that are balanced and fluid within the frame. And don’t forget to capture a simple headshot of each dancer!
- Technical Considerations: Remember your lighting, angles, and depth of field. Lighting must complement the dancer and highlight their form. Experiment with angles to capture flattering and dynamic poses.
- Posing Etiquette: Don’t ask your dancer to jump over and over because you’re having trouble timing a photograph. Posing, jumping and leaping are physically exhausting and photographers should be aware. A good rule of thumb is no more than 5 tries. Instead, use burst mode and select the best image later. Another rule of thumb is to never post a dancer’s photo on social media unless you have approval first. Some dance costumes and dance wear can be tight or transparent during stretches and poses that showcase flexibility and may be considered inappropiate according to how the dancer is posed. Be mindful of this prior to posting any images online or for display.
- Ages of the Dancers: A dance studio has a wide range of age groups, and you must be mindful of the skill and maturity of your subjects. The younger the dancer, the simpler the pose should be. Older dancers will have the stamina and attention span to experiment, while those just starting may lack the focus to run through multiple poses over an extended period.
- Props and Costumes: Your photographs are a visual record of the specific things a dancer worked on and achieved during the year. Encourage the use of props related to the style of dance you are photographing and representative of the dancers’ recital performances.
- Facial Expressions: Facial expressions are a vital component of the story a dancer is attempting to tell with their movements. Reminding your subjects to focus on recreating performance expressions while being photographed will help convey feeling in your photographs.
- Variety and Range: Provide as many options as time permits. Include static and dynamic poses, close-up and full-body shots, and multiple angles to represent the dancer and their style fully. Use group poses to capture the dynamics and chemistry of the ensemble.
- Collaboration: Collaboration fosters creativity. Allow dancers the flexibility to incorporate their strengths and vision into the photo session. It is also best to have a dance teacher present to ensure the poses are technically correct and accurately reflect the style of dance you are capturing.
It’s a lot to keep in mind, but with some preparation and practice, you’re sure to capture magical photos your customers will adore. Consider using a volume photography software like PhotoDay to keep your workflow streamlined and sales flowing. From job preparation and pre-pay to post-processing and marketing, PhotoDay can save you precious time and increase your sales—all while delighting your customers!
Best Poses for Dance Volume Photography by Style
Jazz dance's fluidity, energy, and expressive movements create multiple opportunities to capture powerful photographs.
You’ll want to incorporate sharp lines, dramatic leaps, and elongated positions. Encourage individuality and freedom of expression, allowing each dancer to showcase their unique style. Pay attention to composition, angles, and collaboration with the dancers to create captivating images that embody the spirit of jazz dance.
By incorporating these tips and encouraging the dancers to embrace their individuality and the joy of movement, you can capture stunning and expressive images.
Firebird / Jump: This pose showcases the grace and athleticism of the dancer. It is executed by jumping into the air with one leg bent at the knee and the other extended forward. Your subject can extend their arms outward or overhead. The firebird captures the dynamic movement and flow associated with jazz dance.
Battement / Kick: The kick showcases flexibility, control, and precision. The dancer demonstrates a strong and straight posture as they point a kicking leg straight up while on relevé of the supporting leg. Arms can be bent or extended out in a graceful manner.
When photographing tap, you should attempt to convey intricate rhythms and percussive footwork in a single frame. You must balance the capture of precise movement and expressive gestures.
Tap is all about contagious energy and infectious spirit. These poses provide a foundation for illustrating the lively power of the style:
Toe Stand: This classic pose demonstrates the elegance and strength of the dancer. The subject balances on the ball of one foot while slightly raising the other as though they are about to perform a toe tap. The dancer may extend their hands gracefully or place them on their hips to demonstrate balance and control.
Tap Soloist: Capturing a full-body shot that emphasizes a tap dancer's posture, lines, and hand gestures is a classic pose. Your subject should feel free to showcase their style while extending one leg and engaging their arms and hands in a dynamic motion.
Ballet and Pointe photographs are most powerful when they beautifully showcase the beauty and strength of the human body. It is critical to capture the poise, athleticism, and storytelling of the art and the dancer.
Utilizing these classic poses will ensure you demonstrate the dancers' dedication and artistry as well as the art form's timeless grace.
Arabesque: This quintessential pose highlight’s the dancer’s extension, balance, and line. The dancer stands on one leg with the other extended straight behind, creating a diagonal line. Arms may be rounded in front, opened to the side, or held gracefully overhead.
En Pointe: This powerful pose is a wonderful demonstration of a dancer’s technical skill, strength, and the ethereal quality of ballet. Your picture can create an illusion of weightlessness as your subject balances on the tips of their toes in pointe shoes. The dancer may express their creativity and strength by posing their arms and torso as they see fit.
The connectivity between music and movement defines lyrical dance. This expressive form blends ballet, jazz, and contemporary dance styles to tell stories and convey powerful emotions as a dancer gracefully moves their body through a piece of music.
Capturing the delicate subtlety and powerful dynamics of the style is challenging yet rewarding. These poses can help you evoke that captivating spirit.
Passé/Retiré: This elegant pose showcases a combination of strength, balance, and control. It’s executed by lifting one leg to a position where the toe is placed near or slightly above the knee of the supporting leg. The dancer’s arms may take various positions, depending on the choreography or style.
Arabesque Attitude: The arabesque attitude pose pays tribute to the ballet roots of lyric dance while highlighting the genre’s modern nature. The dancer stands on one leg while extending the other behind, bent at the knee, with the foot placed near the supporting knee.
Compelling acro/gymnastic dance photographs capture the grace of dancing fused with the strength and athleticism of acrobatics. Allowing dancers to demonstrate the seamless blend of physicality and artistry will create stunning images that come to life in the frame.
Freezing the moments that display exceptional skill and creativity can be a challenge. These poses will help you convey the motion of the flips, twists, and contortions that set acro/gymnastic dancing apart.
Handstand Balance: Capturing the moment the dancer is perfectly balanced in the handstand position is a great way to showcase their strength and control. You can play with angles to capture their body alignment and explore incorporating facial expressions to showcase the dancer’s focus and determination.
Showcase Flexibility: Acro/gymnastic dance often incorporate impressive flexibility. Ask the dancer what their favorite pose or trick is to demonstrate their flexibility. There is no one way to take these kinds of photos, so collaborate with the dancers you photograph to capture poses of which they’re proud.
Despite being relatively new as a recognized dance style, hip-hop is wildly popular for its rhythmic movements, intricate footwork, and expressive gestures. The modern embracing of diversity, authenticity, and the joy of movement, makes this dance genre as exciting to photograph as it is to watch and perform.
When capturing images of hip-hop dancers, capturing their energy and attitude is crucial. These styles will ensure those intangibles will shine.
Freeze Frame: Encourage the dancers to perform dynamic motions and jumps and capture the moment they are in mid-air. Freezing the action at the peak of their movements highlights the dancers’ athleticism and skill. Pay special attention to facial expressions that convey the attitude of the dance as well.
Isolation and Attitude: Intricate isolations and strong expressive gestures are hallmarks of hip-hop dance. Suggest your dancer strike a pose that isolates a specific part of their body, like popping their chest or shoulder. Encourage them to share their style with body language and facial expressions to give your photos an authentic feel.
Photographing dancers allows two art forms to converge and create imagery that evokes movement, strength, and music. Combining your passion with the passion of a studio ensemble is a guaranteed recipe to immortalize memories that dancers and their loved ones will always cherish.
Remember to collaborate with the dancers to capture their unique style, creativity, and personality. Experiment with different lighting, angles, and composition to enhance the mood of your photographs. As you gain experience working with dance studios, your style will flourish as you continually add new and exciting poses to your picture day playbook that showcase the artistry and spirit of dance.
If you’re interested in immersing yourself into the world of dance photography, consider attending Pas de Deux—the first-ever dance-focused photography conference. You can learn more about this wonderful event on their website and Instagram: @pasdedeuxphoto.