5 tips for dance photography

February 15, 2016

A big passion of mine is dance. For many reasons. I am going to show you what goes through my mind when I do dance photography. I have Sarah, a Utah Valley University dance team member model for me. Lets just stop and say, WOWSA! This girl is so talented, and unbelievable gorgeous! She attends Utah Valley University, and is apart of their dance team there. She specializes in contemporary, ballet, hip-hop, and many other styles.

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So alot of photographers that try to get into this particular style of photography need to remember a few things.

1. You need to know about dance. I think alot of people this this is an over rated step, but I would dare say its the most important. I had someone ask me my opinion about their dance photo’s, and they did everything right. The lighting was fine, the movement was fine. But the model was caught not pointing her toes. I’m sure it was just a fluke, but as a photographer, you have to understand what looks good, and what looks bad. If you dont know dance terminology or much about dance, I highly suggest you talk with your models, or someone who does know how to dance to teach you, or to tell your model what to do.eastern idaho dance photography sarah-1


2. Know your light. I highly suggest you use off camera light. Whether its just a flash, a window, or lighting equipment. In this shoot, My off camera light decided it was going to stop working, so I took advantage of the window light. The reason why lighting is so important is when dancer’s are dancing, they move at speeds that is hard to capture unless you have impeccable light. So keep that in the back of your head.

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3. Pinterest is great, but can often hurt your creativity. Dont get me wrong, I love Pinterest, but I often find photographers saying to their models, hey do this “shows them pin”. This can be ok in the initial creative process, but please, please, please, dont stop there, If you find you are a novice at posing your dance model, ask them to improv, or do a routine they already know. That way they will seam more natural with the posing. Those often spark other creative ideas.

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4. Wait to snap your photo at the peak moment. Knowing when the peak of the movement happens is easy, getting that to translate to your camera is a little more difficult. Lets say your dancer model is doing a tilt, (that means they are lifting one of their legs really high). If you catch it too early it will look like she cant lift her leg as high as she really can. Make sure you are catching the most of the movement other wise you will get average photos.

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5. Music is the great unifyer. If you put music on, your dancer and you now have a connection. You are feeling what your dancer is feeling. I promise you will be able to catch more moments that way. You will be able to predict what and how your dancer is moving and then are more able to catch your dancer in full motion.

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and because Sarah is a babe, we did a few portraits out in the snow. And then it got cold…. go figure?

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She modals like a dancer…go figure.


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