As I’m sure many of you know by now, I am a photographer as well as a dancer. It’s a fairly unique combination of skills and I wanted to share some of the combined knowledge with you. At some point in every belly dancer’s life, they will want a photoshoot. If you are going professional, this is a MUST!
So here are some tips from a photographer and a dancer to you:
Make sure that you’re comfortable in your costume and that it fits well. A photographer may be able to edit a few things here are there, but don’t rely on it. If you are unsure whether your costume fits well, ask a friend or your dance teacher to help you with it.
Don’t pose with unfamiliar props
Posing with props can be great – if you’re comfortable with them! The last thing you want to do is pose with a prop that you don’t usually use. This will show in your body posture and facial expression, because you won’t look comfortable and you’ll usually be holding the prop awkwardly. You don’t have to pose with a prop – while veils and the like look great in photos, sometimes it might be better to leave them at home.
Before you arrive at the photoshoot, practice your poses! It’s ok to be a little vain here and stare at yourself in the mirror for hours because in the end you need to know how your body looks good. If you are unsure which poses to do, think of poses from dances you have done, perhaps an end pose of a dance or a mid-movement pose. If you are conscious about a certain part of your body, tell your photographer so that they can make sure they don’t accentuate it.
Weather & Lights
Weather is only a factor if you are shooting on location, which can be absolutely beautiful but also an absolute disaster! Keep in mind that if there is wind, veils and isis wings can become redundant as the wind will dictate the direction the veil and wings go. While a light breeze is nice, it can quickly become irritating. Make sure you arrive at your location early so that you can scout out areas you’d like to use for your photos. If you are shooting in a studio, it’s important to know what kind of lighting you’d like – dramatic or even lighting.
Remember that photo/film make up is very similar to stage make up in that it has to be exaggerated in order to show up well on photos. Look on the web for ideas for make up by looking at other dancer’s photoshoots. So if you look like a drag queen, you’re doing it right!
Don’t waste time, come prepared!
Remember that you are paying the photographers for their time. You don’t want to waste their time because you are not prepared. Coming to the shoot full of ideas is a photographers dream – it makes it so easy and so much more fun to shoot!
Don’t be afraid to talk and ask
If you have questions or suggestions, TALK to your photographer! We are always open to ideas and always willing to ask questions!
Listening to your photographer is essential to a great and productive photoshoot! Photographers know what they are doing, and you have chosen your photographer for a reason, so listen to them. Sometimes they want to try something a little more creative and that is almost always rewarding if both sides cooperate!
The most important thing to do in preparation for your photoshoot is choose a photographer you are comfortable with. Being uncomfortable is not something that can be Photoshopped out of your face – and believe me, it will show.
Although a (good) photographer will be thinking of all of these things anyway, it is also your job to do research and come to a photoshoot prepared!
I recently did a photoshoot with some dancers, and I will be putting the photos up on my Facebook page sometime soon, so if you want to see my work, you can have a look at it here: Alexandra Graham Photography
Good luck to those planning shoots, I hope this advice was useful!