Each year, my home studio arranges a professional photo shoot, and it always sells out in a New York minute. Why? Well, it’s a great way to showcase your hard-earned skills in a lasting medium. Pole photos make fun gifts for your partner. It’s also fun to have your hair and makeup professionally done and play model for a day! 🙂
But a photo shoot can be a frustrating, nerve-wracking endeavor, and if you aren’t prepared your results may not be what you were expecting. The images in the above graphic were selected from a folder containing around 400 images. And the 400 images were the ones the photographer sent to me AFTER he’d gone through and pulled those where I appeared to be headless, or those in which my shoulder appeared to have grown a foot, or [insert obviously unacceptable body position here].
For every “hey, I love this!” capture of a given pose, there were at least 15 that made me groan. Horrifying angles. Bad facial expressions (so. many. bad. facial. expressions). Skin pulling in a most unflattering way (AKA the case of the disappearing belly button!). Awkward hands (what was I thinking?). A flexed foot here and there. Gahhhh.
In the interest of the June Blog Hop topic — The Body is Art — I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve picked after having done several photo shoots over the years. Some you’ve probably heard before, and many are simple common sense, but hopefully there will be something new and helpful for you!
- Get plenty of sleep for several nights leading up to your shoot. Getting high-quality rest just the night before may not cut it. Make your makeup artist’s job easy–don’t force him/her to cover the giant bags under your eyes and dull skin that can come from chronic lack of sleep.
- Stay hydrated before, during, and after! Take a bottle of water with you and sip it in between moves. Studio lights are hot and you’ll be working up a sweat. Plus, hydrated skin is dewy, soft, and so much more photogenic — and it takes time, so don’t think a bottle of water an hour before your shoot is going to produce it.
- Give your body FUEL. It’s tempting to crash diet before a photo shoot where you know you’re wearing tiny shorts and a bra. Trust me, I know this temptation all too well! But if your body has no fuel you’ll be tired and cranky and weak on the day of your shoot, and that will, to put it plainly, suck.
- Write down the poses you want to do, and the order in which you want to do them. Do a few easier poses to help you get warmed up and comfortable in front of the camera, and have a few easier poses to do at the end, when you’re exhausted and don’t want to do anything difficult. Then, take the rest of your selected poses and group the ones that flow into each other easily to economize your hard work. For example, outside leg hang to hip hold to inside leg hang. Or outside leg hang to shooting star/jasmine to butterfly to inside leg hang. The goal is to minimize the number of times you have to climb or invert. Save your strength for the poses!
- Know the best angles for the poses you want. Butterfly generally looks best when the catch leg is toward the camera. Aysha is great in profile or from a 3/4 angle but IMO doesn’t look as impressive when the dancer is facing the camera … and it’s usually downright unflattering when shot directly from the back. Knee hold certainly has its good — and not so good — angles. For my knee hold picture above, we set the pole to spin and the photographer just snapped away as I spun around in position. I continually changed my hands/head/torso lines and angles, and we ended up with the winner. Same with hood ornament. Bottom line: try to get a friend to take snapshots in the days/weeks leading up to photo shoot day, so you can examine angles and poses.
- Show the photographer the exact angles you’re going for. If I tell a photographer, “make sure my catch leg is facing the camera” he/she may not understand exactly what I mean by that. “Facing the camera” is pretty ambiguous on its own. But if I show her/him a picture of the precise angle I want, I can get help from those eyes on the ground when getting into and out of the pose.
- Account for the natural shifting and movement of your body around the pole when getting into a pose. This relates to the point above. So often we know what angle we’re going for … but what we get is ever so slightly off the mark. That’s because our bodies shift and move as we transition into and out of poses, and we need to take that into account. When you invert and go into a leg hang, your body will spin at least a little bit. Know how much and in what direction.
- Simple poses are often the prettiest. Two of my favorite poses from the shoot were the easiest to do: the crucifix variation and the standing pose below. Why did they turn out? Because I could concentrate on doing all the things that would make them the most flattering, rather than having to concentrate on holding my body in a shoulder mount hang, or aysha, or whatever. Simple poses allow you the luxury of being completely thoughtful so you can make the lines perfect … so don’t write them off because they’re “easy.”
- Put on some music that you love dancing to. It will show in your posture, your face, your lines. In my experience, this is particularly true if you’re doing a “boudior” photo shoot.
- Keep poses to the “sure things.” So you got your first aysha in the class before the shoot. Hooray! My advice? Put it on hold until your next go ’round. Just like it’s a bad idea to put an uncertain move into a routine, it’s usually a bad idea to put an uncertain move into a photo shoot lineup. You’re still working out lines, extension, perfect body position. And you might very well still be at the funny face stage of the pose. Boo.
- Do a run-through in your outfit(s). It’s horrible to be in mid-pose and have to bail because your shorts shifted in a bad bad way, or because you had a can’t-photoshop-that-out nip slip. It’s also horrible to be in mid-pose and realize you are being scratched viciously by a rogue sequin or poked to death by an underwire. Pick a day well before your shoot and put on your outfit. Try every single pose and record yourself from a fairly close position (or ask a friend to be your censor eyes), then watch the recording to look for problems.
If you go in prepared, you’ll have more fun, you’ll probably get a better selection of great shots to choose from, and your stress level will decrease dramatically.
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