Are You Making These 3 Mistakes When Photographing Dancers?

Did I catch your attention?

Now, my fellow photographers, let me ask you this important question:

How long have you been shooting dancers and how can I help?

I’ve been shooting dancers since I was in college for photography almost 20 years ago (holy cow!). I’ve made all the same mistakes you are making now, and chances are, scads more!

One of my missions is to bring more beauty to the world, help dancers and dance companies with their careers’ and businesses, and bring the love and joy of dance to as many people as possible.  This past year I’ve been working on my mission by helping other photographers to do the same: to do their best work, learning how to help the dancers look their best, and to gain confidence.  That’s why I can’t wait to share our education portal for dance photographers – it’s just about ready!

Today, I’m here to alert you to 3 mistakes I often see photographers make when they shoot dancers, and to give you some quick tips to solve them.

dusty rose dress edgy with pointe shoe dance photographer rachel neville

Grace Weidemann, Dancer Photo Rachel Neville

3 Dance Photography Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Now

1) Shooting too high

I can always tell when a photographer comes to shooting dance from a portrait background.  We all know that, unless you are going for a particular effect, one shoots a portrait from a little bit higher angle than the subject.  So, when I see the top down angle on a dancer I almost always know the photographer is into portraits.  Not the take-away you want from your dance photos!

Tip: Almost all dancers look better if you shoot with your lens at waist level or lower.  Don’t be afraid to get down on the ground or to lie on the floor.

2) Flat lighting

So often I see photographers who get stuck in a lighting pattern that is designed to light faces, not bodies.  For dance photos, we need lighting designed to highlight the lines and musculature of the body.

Tip: Experiment!  Move that light 360 degrees around your dancer and see what it can do.

3) Crotch shots

Dancers love to show off their flexibility and technique… but it’s never flattering to them or to you when the first thing you see in an image is wide open legs and a crotch staring right at you.  There is a level of sexuality in dance that can be lovely, or it can be inappropriate.

Tip: Minimize the area of a dancer’s body that you don’t want to highlight by altering their angle of movement.  You can also try adding a skirt, prop or garment to cover the area.

Over several years I’ve created a method of working with dancers to translate their 3 Dimensional movements and poses into what looks good in 2D (screens and print).  Trademarked The Neville Method, I introduce this technique in our workshops and curriculum, but in the next post here, I will give you a taste – so stay tuned.

In the meantime, drop us an email and we’d be happy to give you more information on our programs for photographers and to answer any questions you have!

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