We’ve talked about your body positions and the way the camera can warp a 3 dimensional object. We’ve talked about your facial expressions and eye positions. Frankly, this is an awful lot to keep in your head, and trying too hard can lead to stiff, sterile pictures. At some point we have to let go and breathe some life into your images!
In some ways this we embark on a silly, Sisyphean task each time we photograph dance. We’re going to take movement- something designed to take place through time and 3 dimensional space- and squash it into a 2 dimensional instant where no time ever passes. No wonder it’s easy for dance images to start to look posed. Boring. Not everything has to be a big, explosive jump though. Quiet images can still have life and energy- we just have to be sure we’re supplying that life and energy. Sometimes this is as easy as a little breeze through your hair or skirt. Often, it means moving through a position instead of trying to hold it like some big dance statue. Sink into a lunge, reach, fall through, lean, stretch, MOVE. You’re a dancer- dance. It’s my job to freeze your action, not yours.
Hear me first- your safety is paramount. The world of a dancer is already treacherous and tenuous enough. No image is worth injury, and you are the only person who knows what’s going on inside your body. Never suffer in silence.
However, it’s not always our natural inclination to do hard things. Not dangerous things, but difficult things. You have to push yourself. Arch further, stretch more, point your darn toes. At the end of a dance session you should be three things: tired, sore and proud of yourself.
Here are the the first two articles in this series. I hope they help you feel prepared for your session!
We want to make the most of your dance photography session. The more you can practice before our time together, the faster we can get each each image 100%. This will give you a much broader portfolio of images in the end.
When I photograph dance, I coach my dancers through similar situations. In the last article we talked about body position and the flattening action of the camera. Today we’ll go through everything happening on your face, which is super easy to neglect when you’re working through a perfect position or piece of movement.
This is an area where dance training and dance photography collide. Dancers are taught to look up out into the house, to present to the whole audience. But at a session you have an audience of one- my camera. If you look with your eyes too far up, right or left into the imaginary house in the world around you, all my camera will see is the whites of your eyes. This gives you the dreaded “zombie eyes.” Try to look away from the camera a little closer to me. Gazing over my shoulders is a good reference point. Alternatively, you can look “down with your lashes.” Look down with your eyes, not with your chin, and don’t squeeze your eyes shut. Just look down towards the ground. While you’re looking down towards that ground, check your feet.
I call this “thinking face” versus “performance face.” It’s so easy to get wrapped up in these tiny little details that you lose the actual performance of the moment. Just like onstage, at some point you have to let go, trust your body, and give it your all. The nice thing about a photo session is that if something goes wrong we can do it again. And again. And again. There’s no reason to get stressed about doing it again- stressed face is worse than thinking face. “One more time” is a feature, a perk, of a photo session- not a problem. How often do you get to do it again immediately on stage if something goes sideways?
I hope you appreciated this article, and feel ready to practice your performance faces before your session! More idea about how to make the most of your dance photography session can be found in these two articles:
Many parents have asked about the process for purchasing the album of digital files. Here’s how that works:
1) Within the ShootProof gallery, click on any photo.
2) Click on the shopping cart icon that says “add to cart”
3) Navigate to the digital media tab
4) To order all the images, add 1 “Full Resolution (All Gallery Photos)”
5) Check out
6) Within 20 minutes or so, an email from ShootProof will arrive with links to download the photos