3 Secrets to Dance Photography

allen texas dancer

There’s three major secrets to getting those magazine and editorial inspired dance photographs.  Do you want to know what they are?

I’m certain you’ve seen all those amazing images of Misty Copeland in her UNDERARMOUR campaigns and the gorgeous photographs on Instagram from popular and established Los Angeles and New York photographers and maybe wondered to yourself, “could I ever have photographs of me like that?”.  Why couldn’t you?

I’d like to share with you these three secrets and ways to achieve this goal and get the most out of a photo session showcasing your talents, techniques and strengths, resulting in beautiful images to blow up larger than life, and share with family and friends.

FIRST! Clothing is key!  What is the mood of the photos? Classic or Contemporary? Are you wearing tights or jeans? A leotard or a dress? Heels, pointe shoes or bare feet?  Bringing multiple clothing choices for outfit changes is always the best option.  Then you can change things up and have lots of variety.  A pre-shoot consultation is the best opportunity to discuss all these options, then things run smoothly and you are using your time wisely!

Whatever clothing choices you decide, make sure they don’t restrict your movement. Your photos are meant to represent the VERY BEST of what you can do. Tight, restrictive clothing will prevent that when in all honesty, the clothes should show off your shape, highlight your lines, and be free of physical limitations.

mckinney dance photographer, dance photography, ballet photography

Next we address the element of posing. We need to first discuss your strong suit as a dancer. Are you a powerhouse at different jumps and high kicks, or are eloquent lines your thing? We need to chose a pose that creates a striking image. A more subtle pose needs a strong visual component for effect, which we will address in the next point, whereas big athletic movements don’t need that additional element to be effective.

Besides knowing what you want to highlight, you should also have as many options as possible ready. Collectively I prefer to design my photo sessions with dancers & gymnasts by creating a pin board on Pinterest and having a choreographer or coach on set. It’s useful to have an idea of what type of poses work best for you and your strengths.  Using a choreographer or coach to talk you thru the movement and the poses puts you in a familiar setting, rather than feeling out of place and awkward in front of a camera.

These gorgeous images don’t just happen, they take hard work on the dancers/gymnast’s part! They have to really press thru the movement because it translate differently in a photo rather than in live motion.  If you strike a particular position and feel like you have it, GO THE EXTRA MILE and really emphasize it!  I promise it will look that much more amazing in your photos!

And believe it or not, sometimes the most simple poses can come out looking like an add for a dance magazine or ballet pointe shoe company!  Who doesn’t want an image that looks like it belongs in a MAGAZINE?

The final tip in creating and executing an amazing photo session is like they say in the Real Estate world – LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION!!  You want to have your session in a location that best fits who you are!  If you’re not interested in country chic or rustic styled textiles, then using a barn and field with old tractors would be a bad choice.  This is also an element that is discussed, designed and planned during your pre-shoot consultation.  Maybe using the inside of a modern or retro styled hotel is a great option for you.  Make sure that you chose something that’s unique and not “typical” or somewhere EVERYONE ELSE has had theirs done.  That’s actually a HUGE goal of mine when I encourage clients to come up with options for their locations.

The location we chose to do our spokesmodel shoot for Lily, in the images above and below, was an old Tuscan styled village called Adriatica in McKinney, TX.  There were so many elements to choose from and all within a short walking distance. Gorgeous stone walls, gigantic rod iron gates and beautiful landscape and water features. I tried my very best to make excellent use of the location and find spots that didn’t seem like they’d been used before.  Even if they had.  It was a perfect fit for her high level of style, technique and execution of fabulous jumps.

Fully customized, designed and mostly executed by you.  My job ultimately is to capture all the fabulous elements discussed above that you bring to the table.  It’s a collaborative effort which creates beautiful artwork and heirloom pieces that you will remember forever!

Are you ready to create images that have the potential to grace the pages of POINTE Magazine or Dance Spirit? Let’s do it!! Send me a message using my CONTACT page and we can get started!

I can’t wait to hear from you!!!
All My Best!!!!


  1. Donna Ruley

    Every word on your site is just fabulous. I mean it, you have a way with words & God had definitely blessed you with a gift in photography.

    • Michelle

      Thank you so much! I appreciate you taking the time to have a look. Your love and support means a lot to me.


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