PHOTOGRAPHY for PROFESSIONAL DANCERS
I grew up in a family of actors and musicians and my parents insisted that we children study theater arts including dance, music and acting. To lull us to sleep, my mother read us Shakespeare. I was on point by the ripe old age of 10, tap danced, and perfromed jazz. Later in life I discovered ethnic dance and that became my true love.
My mother (Broadway and TV actress, Peggy French), taught me make-up, costuming and performance skills – all of which contributed to a body of theater arts knowledge that prepared me for a life as a performing artist; I was very lucky.
But, I never knew anything about photogrpahy or marketing. So I went to school and got an AA in Small Business Admin and studied as much as I could about photography for dancers. I'd like to share a little of this knowledge with my fellow dancers.
There is a saying in the marketing world:
“Marketing is what you say you are; Branding is what people perceive you to be”.
Once you have defined your brand and know who you are in the world of dance, you will be able to market yourself. Professional images should be professional, reflect your brand and show artistic breadth
Photos should not be taken by a friend in a hallway or your dance studio after working out. Your flyers/cards/appearance etc. must come across to the public as professional. Your images should therefore be top-notch. Top notch tips:
1.They should be taken in a studio with good lighting and a professional setting.
2.They should consistently reflect who you are as an artist, what you stand for, and your style. They should become a recognized brand in the dance world. For example, check out this Home page image of Ansuya at www.ansuya.com. It is smokey and has an "other-worldli-ness" to it. That is her signature image type - all her shots have this element to them and that creates the Goddess element she is going for! Check out super-star Suhaila at www.suhaila.com. Her images are all business - she is "The Director". She has passed the role of dancer to her beautiful daughter, Isabelle.
3. Your images should show diversity and artistic breadth. When doing your annual shoot, use various costumes, poses and moods. That way, you have a cache of images to share for a variety of events and marketing products. For example, if you want to get gigs at private parties, make sure you have some pictures of you in a gorgeous, glamorous costume smiling joyfully. Why? Because women usually hire the entertainment and they are not going to hire a dancer who looks dour, depressed and pathetic. They want their entertainer to bring happiness to their event. If you are skilled at cane, shamidan, tribal fusion, floor work - whatever - have images that show that.When doing your annual shoot, use various costumes, poses and moods.
4. Dance is about movement and stillness. Most images should have some movement in them to communicate that you are a dancer. Still ones should be a great poses. Head shots should be mostly emotive.
5. Needless to say, you should be groomed and made up like a pro for professional images. Stage make-up, hair done, costumes clean and ironed and -NO EYE GLASSES, please!
6. The images taken should be created for both print and digital media, such as flyers, business cards and websites.
FLYERS & BUSINESS CARDS = Print media.
Content: You will need a standard image(s) used regularly of you in motion, plus a head shot. If you teach a variety of subjects (Cane, Popping, Floor work, etc.) have a few of you doing each of these things for your flyers and for sponsors who hire you.
Technical Quality: Print media quality is based on the number of pixels per inch (ppi) used to make the print. The more pixels per inch, the finer the detail in the print will be and the sharper it will look. Probably the minimum value for reasonable print quality is 180 ppi. For a better image you can go to 240ppi and for the best quality you may have to go to 300ppi.
There are programs which can “upsize” images to help you make larger prints from smaller files, but these should be used as a last resort. The better the input (image quality right out of the camera), the better the output (final print) and in general you’ll get superior results starting with images from a DSLR than images from a digicam, even though they both may have the same number of pixels. Larger sensors and larger pixels tend to yield higher print quality.
WEBSITES = Digital media.
When creating a website you will need images that include reflect all these elements in order for the site to be cohesive and professional. Create a gallery of your past performances as well as images for the Home page that are captivating and urge the viewer to want to see more!
Photography can be expensive but it is very worth it to have good shots in various costumes, poses and in motion. A photo shoot is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun.Find a good photographer and keep him or her in your tool kit of marketing:)