Dance Photography Using A White Background
Dance photography using a white background is a great way to remove distractions and focus on the beautiful dancers.
It worked well in capturing images of a wide range of students ages 3-18, beginner to advanced, with costumes of every color imaginable. Another benefit of the white background was that it was simple to offer collages and posters as add-ons to the parents’ orders.
The art of dance is portrayed with such ease, beauty, and grace, we sometimes forget what amazing technique, focus, training, and athletic ability are required. Capturing the effortlessness of a dancer at the peak moment of flight (with a serene smile, no less) is incredibly rewarding.
As a former dancer, teacher, and studio owner, my goal is to provide these dance studios with the services I searched for when I owned my dance studio.
Images of their dancers in flattering forms, with proper technique is important to both the teachers and the parents. Giving them variety while highlighting the best attributes of each dancer will give you an edge over your competition.
With older, more advanced dancers, asking them to show you their favorite jump or move can be a good starting point.
The younger, beginning dancers can be more of a challenge, though.
When asked, they will often try moves beyond their current capabilities. Pulling their foot above their head, in spite of how awkward the move, is a favorite! As the photographer, it is important to know when they just aren’t ready for a particular move and then to be able to gently give them another suggestion without hurting their feelings. Maybe saying something like “Wow, that’s an awesome move! Now how about if you …..”
It’s really important to get images that are technically correct.
If you don’t personally have a dance background, it’s really important you have someone to help with these sessions. If the dance instructor is not able to be with you throughout the entire shoot, you might want to consider hiring someone with a dance background to assist in these sessions. Without an understanding of dance, you may see that it doesn’t look quite right, but not know what directions need to be given for a quick and easy adjustment. Shoulders down, tummy in, turn out, stretch the knees, or many other slight corrections can make a huge difference. The bonus for getting it “right” is a great image the student will be proud of, the teacher will be happy with, and the parent will love because their child looks like a “real” dancer.
Including props like the scarf in the image below adds another dimension.
These advanced dancers were always together on their jump, however it took a few tries to get cooperation from the scarf. It caught on feet, over heads, and gave us a few laughs. By sharing the shots on the back of my camera with these girls, as well as talking about all looking away from the camera, they were quickly able to make adjustments needed for the final shot.
When working with individual dancers, or elite performance groups, I love to take the art of dance and photography a step further. Putting talented dancers in unexpected outdoor or urban locations provides an endless palette of possibilities. But, that’s another story!