The Right Angle: How to Make the Most out of Ballet Photo Shoots

This week I want to discuss another exciting, yet very tedious aspect of ballet: photo shoots. At some point in every dancer’s career, a photo shoot will crop up. Over the past several years, I have attempted to discover the ways to make the most of every single photo shoot experience. Here are the top tips that I have found to be the most helpful.
Before the Shoot
First and foremost, plan out exactly what you are going to wear. I recommend packing at least two pairs of pointe shoes that are no longer being used for classes or rehearsals. Bring a variety of different leotards that will compliment the location of your shoot.
• For instance, if your shoot is in a botanical garden, pack light, pastel colored leotards that will not provide too much of a contrast between you and your setting. However, if you are shooting near a body of water or in an urban, city setting, I highly recommend wearing brightly colored leotards as both of these scenes call for some deal of contrast in order to

Use lighter colors in a a plant heavy setting (Photo by Ballet Zaida)
Use lighter colors in a a plant heavy setting
(Photo by Ballet Zaida)

capture eye-catching photos.

• Yet, as always, black or white leotards are always excellent second options for any setting that you may choose for a photo shoot.
Second, I strongly encourage you to plan out some, if not all, of your poses. These are easy and quick things that can be figured out right after a class or rehearsal. Be sure to check your angles to make sure that you are hitting your desired poses. More often than not, dancers, including myself, arrive at a shoot and quickly run out of ideas for poses. An easy fix is to have someone snap a few photos on your phone when you are trying out poses in the studio to reference during the actual shoot. You can also check out The Ballerina Project and Ballet Zaida for a multitude of posing ideas.
On the Day of the Shoot
As always, double-check to make sure that you have all of the essentials for a shoot before going to the location. I recommend making a list, packing the night before, and then double checking on the morning of a shoot. These essentials can include,:
• Pointe shoes
• Leotards
• A tutu (if not provided)
• Extra outfits if called for (e.g. dresses, skirts, shorts, simple tops, etc.)
• Hair supplies (extra hair ties, bobby pins, hair spray)
• Makeup
• Water (an absolute must, especially for outdoor shoots)
• Sweats, a shirt/jacket, and comfortable shoes to wear before and after the shoot (especially if you are walking around on location)

Pick bright colors and bold poses for more dramatic shots. (Photo by Ballet Zaida)
Pick bright colors and bold poses for more dramatic shots.
(Photo by Ballet Zaida)

Finally, make sure that you are warmed up and well prepared for the shoot. If possible, try to take class prior to a shoot; it will make the process a lot easier for you and the photographer.


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