Preparing for a Photoshoot

3-10 Dec 2018

Welcome back folks- I apologize for missing out last week, we had a family emergency and I just couldn’t bring myself to blog in the middle of it. It happens. I believe you all will survive- but I have a good one for you today! Some of you may remember I had a photo shoot scheduled for June that was unfortunately cancelled, but Stereo Vision Photography was having a marathon shoot and the Salimpour Collective will be attending so I figured I’d follow through with the original plan for new studio shots and double up on doing my solo shots and the Collective shoot.  I had made some good plans with costumes for what I wanted to showcase and have since forgotten all about what my plan was- but it’s a perfect opportunity to talk about what goes into prepping for a photo shoot to make the most of your time!

There are usually a few types of photo shoots to consider:

  •  Outside
  •  Studio
  •  Prom shots
  •  Performance Shots

Knowing what type of photo shoot you signed up for or wanted is crucial for how to prepare.  My first photo shoot was outside- and I *almost* regret it- I had a TON of fun- but I wasn’t used to doing professional shots and looking back it was more high pressure to get it right since we were roving and on a fairly tight time line. It was an added layer of stress I didn’t really need- but I did get some amazing shots and ultimately- #noregrats   Although- looking back at what I crawled over and around- I’m lucky I didn’t get poison ivy: Photos both by Pixie Vision


Things to consider if you’re doing outside shoots- are you going to do costume changes? Do you have time to do changes? Where are you changing Do you have someone to help you? Are your costumes difficult to get into? Did you practice getting into and out of them in a small space? Can you make a better choice- can you create a changing flow that makes sense in terms of removing/putting on etc etc- What props can you bring? Do you have a friend to help you schlep stuff so you don’t have to get sweaty and making marks on your skin from carrying things? Are you prepared for bad weather? Do you have a backup location? what about a hair style? will that be impacted by the elements?

Studio shots are more controlled and usually a fixed amount of time and frequently get costume changes. Sometimes you’re charged by outfit change- but frequently it’s based on the one hour block of time. If that’s the case- plan for 2-5 outfit changes- it will depend on how quickly you and your photographer can get through a bunch of looks with one outfit and how quickly you can change into the next one. (bringing a friend to help change and fluff/fix/touch up is invaluable). It’s better to have MORE costumes than only bring two and then feel like you ran out of things to do. You also might have options for back ground choices.

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Some things to consider for studio shoots: do you have enough costumes? Do you have a priority list of costumes like an A list and a B list? Do you have space to lay out your costumes in a flow? Do you have a flow? Do you have a friend to help floof/fluff and fix? What props can you bring? Are there back ground choices? will you get lost? do they have lighting to make it dramatic?


Prom Shots- these are usually quick shoots at an event- and are 10-15 min and its rapid fire GO GO GO type posing- it’s nice because there is less time to think and you just have to jump in and work with it. I think I have the *most* fun doing these- I go in and just move and do and hope for the best- you’re usually only going to get like 10 shots but if you throw everything in there- you’ll get some good ones.  Some of my favorite and best pictures are with my friends because pulling them in for fun shenanigans.

Performance shots- sometimes you can talk to your photographer in advance and sometimes not.  If you can talk to them- if there’s anything IN your dance you want to capture that you can let them know in advance- it might be helpful (I travel a lot, I’m standing still- I’m going to be on the floor a lot) can help them adapt- don’t inundate them with details- but a general over view can helpful.  But it’s helpful over all with your dance to assume you have a photographer- and PLAN to stop- don’t run all the way around the stage constantly playing the “you can’t catch me game” you’ll be VERY disappointed- I promise you.


On the photo shoot itself, I think one of the things I didn’t know as I was newer (gosh- 2014/2015?) and I did my first shoot with Pixie Vision Photography was – what did I want these pictures for? Did I care? – at the time- no. absolutely not. I just wanted pretty pretty pictures.  Looking back I wish I had had a better understanding and had considered things to “say” with my pictures.

Thinking about all that: Do you have something you’re trying to say with your pictures? Whose your target audience? Instagram, Facebook, Blog, Website, Promotional Content? Consider these things- and plan costumes and poses that can accomplish that. One thing I realized I don’t do a lot of landscape friendly shots- and I am remiss frequently about not having more of a selection of pictures to choose from in that department.

Costumes: what’s in your costume closet? what do you have available- are they all just your favorites or you trying to say something about your flexibility as a dancer? Are you doing any promo work for a designer you love? Take a look- plan it out- don’t leave it to the last minute- you’ll be stressed and more likely to miss an accessory or be disappointed that you forgot to get “that one thing”

Something to consider too- do you want “street clothes” head shots? Do you have a good dress/outfit?

Accessories: Do you have accessories for EACH costume? Or just a few that are universal for you costumes? It’s helpful to plan that out- try them on make sure they fit and then organize them so they are WITH the costume so when you get dressed, everything is RIGHT THERE. Bonus points if you have a little list with each costume you can run through to make sure you have it all before you get in front of the camera.

Props: Are they clean? Are the available? Can you travel with them? Are your veils clean and steamed? Do you want them ALL- can you “share” does someone have a drum they are bringing? Are you doing fun shots related to other things at all? (I’m using my cloth tape pins and a yard stick and my laptop for a few of mine for my blogging and sewing shots)

Make up- what color are your costumes? Are they all similar? Are you trying to match your make up or do a general eye look? What about lipstick? That can change a look quickly with minimal effort.  It’s useful to do a trial run and see

For me this weekend I needed to be prepared in advance as we were due at 10 AM in VA.  of course- I was not which was stressful but I managed to make it happen.   I was up around 5 to close up the suit case and make up myself, then out the door by 630. Full make up before noon is just weird- at 5 AM- is even weirder. honestly. I didn’t do my lashes because no. just no. But we got started and had a great time- which ultimately – is the point of this whole process. Smile- have a good time. Drink some wine, bring your friends who have opinions, and bring your extra- you’ll need all of it. Bring snacks, water- a onsie or sweater and powder and make up for your face to touch up.



So all of those things to say is- have some sort of plan, have your costumes organized and have a good time. You’ll get more out of your shoot if you’re relaxed around people you trust and prepared with your costumes and what you know you want to say and ultimately the sooner you can get to a space where you’re making shapes and art and experimenting- you’ll have more options to choose from when you get the shots to select.

Hopefully this has given you all some confidence with how to prepare and what to think about as you head into your next photo-shoot so you have a successful shoots and ultimately have a good positive experience and a great time!

Till next time fearless readers!

Thanks to  Stereo Vision Photography for the shoot this weekend , Carrie from The Dancers Eye and Pixie for my other amazing shoots, my friends Donna Razilee Bee Lorelei and  Phoenix Raqs.

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