So my husband is also a photographer, some of my clients know that but most of the time it doesn’t come up. David is a stills photographer in the film and television industry, he’s the guy that works on the sets and takes the publicity photos you see in magazines. He occasionally does the ‘gallery’ or seamless shots for publicity departments, and I happened to be asked to assist him today. I have to admit that once or twice a year it’s sometimes nice to be just the assistant and hang out!


 Anyway, today we are sitting waiting (there’s a lot of hurry up and wait in the film world), and one of the actors we shot just came back to say ‘bye, thanks and hope to see you again.’ His manner stood out significantly as one who had been schooled in networking; I just had to write about him!


 Jake had a bright, extrovert, up-beat nature that you often see with actors but not always with dancers. He came right over and shook everyone’s hand with eye contact and made sure he knew your first name. He used his body language to indicate he was interested in everyone he spoke with, from the photographer (Dave) to the assistant (me), to the production co-ordinaries. If the guy who had brought up the catering had been there I’m sure he would have done so with him as well.


When he was finished the shoot he made sure to exchange Instagram feeds with everyone and I actually do think he was the type to stay in touch, if only to see the pictures when they were used.

rachel neville career tips for dancers networkingKaeli Coleman and Forrest Rain Olivers, Dancers Photo Rachel Neville

Clearly his personality was helpful and extroverts have an easier time with these types of situations.  But when you don’t know where your next job is coming from we could do well to pay attention to those who are more skilled at networking than we are.


Keys to Good Networking

1. Make eye contact
Do not waver, indicate enough interest and intensity to be sure you will not be forgotten.


2. Express appreciation
Make everyone feel like they were necessary and you are glad they were all there.


3. Work the room
Make sure to connect and say a quick goodbye to as many people as possible.


4. Make a genuine connection
Like Jake, show that you are interested in staying in touch with people and offer your social media as a way to do so.


5. Ask questions
I noticed that if our actor friend didn’t know what to say, he found a way to ask a question, even if it was to ask for a name again.


Clearly, Jake gave me the impression that he had been networking in the film industry since he was a child… practice is often what we all need to be that good at networking.  These tips will surely help you practice your skills at your next audition, workshop, class or event.

How to Market Yourself as a Dancer – Marketing Series Pt 2

Ok, let’s get started!

Marketing for Dancers: Find Your Strengths

There are many elements of good marketing. Most companies think about their print, social media, Google ads and product placement, just to name a few. How does all of this translate to dancers?

Does it feel a little overwhelming?

Let’s begin by defining the question of how marketing relates to dancers in a different way.

dance marketing ideas

For good marketing all the gurus out there talk about having in-depth knowledge of your product (in the case of a dancer, that’s you) and who your target audience or ‘ideal customer’ is.

Today, let’s take some time to explore the first part of the equation: knowing who you are. As dancers we often live in a world of negative comments, ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘she’s so much better than I am’ – the constant stream of daily corrections and judgment.

Please take that hat off now. Right now. Sure, those can be productive conversations to have, within context, to drive you forward and achieve your goals. However, those kinds of conversations do not serve you 100% of the time and now is one of those times. Put that little man on your shoulder to rest right now, you do not need his whisperings here.

marketing tips for dancers find your strength

Dancer: Sophia Bovet, Photo: Rachel Neville

Sit down and write a list of your strengths, all of them. Personality traits, dancing strengths, cool things you are interested in, quirky or unique characteristics, why your friends love you, why you are in love with beetle bugs… whatever it is, put it all down.

Now, sit with this for a day or so. Come back again with fresh eyes and really see who you are on paper.

What are the areas that light you up?

What do you love?

What are the types of pictures, comments, articles, hangout places, cookies, performances, companies, that interest you and motivate you?

These are the things that help your audience get to know you.  Through your dance marketing, you will set up your ‘locker wall’ – your presence.

Then what?

Think about the right time to start marketing yourself as a dancer. There are some schools of thought that it’s better for young dancers to focus on their craft, to have life experiences and wait until they are older and really have something to say before making themselves heard and putting themselves out there.

white flowing long ballet skirt long hair dancer rachel neville photography

Dancer: Mikayla McKean, Photo: Rachel Neville

There are other thoughts that run the exact opposite, that one should start super early.  Indeed we have all seen the Instagram accounts run by ‘mom’, with run-of-the-mill posts that don’t have the voice of the dancer.

I don’t have all the answers here. I do know that dancers on a pre-professional tract need to start their personal marketing when they are a couple of years away from getting a job. I’m also a mom of two young girls and I cringe at seeing kids under twelve on social media, particularly with questionable pictures of backbends and crotch shots.

But I certainly don’t think, in the world we are living in, that you want to wait until you are a soloist in a company before you start sharing your voice, and your value.

Do you want to distract from your training and life by becoming obsessed with your marketing? Certainly not. Please do not take these marketing tips as an excuse to take foot selfies between classes.

 cool dance marketing photos rachel neville

Dancer: Georgina Pazcoguin,  Photo: Rachel Neville

Do what feels right, a little bit at a time. And do consider the added value to your company when you are hired if you have a following that will buy tickets to come see you.

Do think about the workshops or classes that might add to your income in your off season if you have a number of followers. We are here to disband the myth of the starving dancer, right?

Read the first post in our Marketing for Dancers Series.

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Photographer Rachel Neville is Coming to San Francisco this Summer

We are excited to announce that we are heading back to San Francisco this summer… and we’re bringing our studio with us!

You heard that right, friends, we will be making the trip across the country with props, fabrics, outfits, outfits and more.

dancers san francisco dance photographer rachel neville nyc

Dancers left to right: Lauren Aureus, Kaeli Ware, Emilia Sandoval, Noelle Lee

This adventure is  all about unleashing your creativity and we are making sure to make that possible.

San Francisco Photo Shoot Dates with Rachel Neville

Rachel Neville Photography will be shooting in San Francisco Friday, August 25th through Monday, 28th.

To book a shoot, drop us a line and we will send you the info!

Dance Marketing. Let’s go!

Marketing.  It’s a vague, distant word for many dancers, something that companies and corporations do, right?  Not any more.

So many businesses and dance companies fail every year (the statistics are pretty depressing so we won’t go there).  I have a hunch that often this has to do with more energy and resources allocated to producing, only leaving the left overs to marketing.  I have first-hand experience with this.

Rachel Neville Photographer dancer tunnel

I came to New York City ten years ago with $5,000 dollars in my pocket, without contacts, family, or even a job.   I thought, like everyone else, that if I just worked really hard and put my best work out there, that I would succeed, that somehow, people would find me and want to work with me.  If I just kept getting better, somehow just putting that energy out there would get me jobs and allow me to pay my rent.  Yeah… no.

I got smart after my kids were born.  I got a business coach.  I started working the marketing.  I hustled like I never thought possible (yes, while being sleep deprived and changing diapers, too!).  I learned as much as I could about business.  I got help. I read and I talk to other business owners about marketing strategies.  And slowly, over time I built a business.

Dancers and dance companies are not any different.

I have come away after the last many years of being a pro photographer, appalled at the lack of business classes offered when I was in college.  There were certainly none offered to me as a dancer and dance student.

But today is different.  We are living in the world of social media.

Let’s face it, dancers don’t make a ton of money.  I’ve been there.  I know what your world is.  So I’m committed to dancers and dance companies who need to maximize the hard work, time and investment you have spent getting to where you are.

How can I help?

I’m going to start posting on this blog resources for your own personal marketing.  Let’s make it easy, let’s make it a little bit fun, and let’s keep you all moving toward success.

Today, I want to introduce you to important marketing ideas while helping you to maximize your time while you are focused on your day-to-day demands and responsibilities with some easy-to-listen-to podcasts that start the marketing conversation.

There are tons of marketing podcasts out there if you just take a minute and these are good ones to get you started.No, none of these are geared specifically toward marketing for dancers or dance companies.  But listen closely for those little take-aways that can help you on your path.  You never know where the good ideas will come from, and the more you are in the conversation, the more things will start rolling.

Make sure to sign up so that you don’t miss any of our coming conversations on this topic, I know you’ll want to get in on this!

Here are some marketing podcasts to help your personal brand or company brand:

Social Media Social Hour
Tyler has several podcasts that are interesting, have a look at his list before downloading to find the best marketing tips for you.

Social Media Marketing Podcast by Michael Stelzner, Social Media Examiner
Michael Stelzner is the man!

This American Life
This feed is about storytelling, not so much marketing.  It’s a crucial tool used in marketing. 

More on marketing for dancers and dance companies coming soon!

Sign Up Now!

Creating Images for Complexions Contemporary Ballet

We have been so busy in the studio and want to take a few moments to share some of the work we have been doing in the past few months for dancers, dance companies and more.

Today, we are taking a look back at the marketing campaign that we helped to create for Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet Rachel Neville marketing campaign

Last year I had the pleasure of working with Complexions Contemporary Ballet and crafting their marketing campaign for the upcoming year.

We worked with Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson on a concept, deciding to highlight the strength, authenticity and artistry of the company’s dancers through the lens of Americana.

Rachel Neville Photography Complexions Ballet

We worked with fashion stylist James Sanders, to put together a bold yet vintage look and the results were incredible. So excited to finally share these images from our shoot!

dance company marketing images Rachel Neville


Complextions Contemporary Dance

NYC Dance Photographer Rachel Neville Complexions Ballet three dancers

NYC dance photographer Rachel Neiville marketing images for Complexions Ballet

Rachel Neville for Complexions Ballet

Complexions Ballet Company Photo Rachel Neville

Spring into Action!

It’s the time of year when everyone digs in… a few more months left until the end of terms, competition finales, new 2017/18 or even 2018/19 years to plan.  We are doing the same here at my Long Island City photography studio.  We are looking for new ways to serve our community, new ways we can spread compassion and support to all of us in our art form.


We are energized and we are enthusiastic.  We are celebrating the first days of spring and the successes of our clients and friends.


Spring photography NEA defunding
Misa Kuranaga Dancer Photo Rachel Neville


And then the budget proposal we see the budget proposal that came out of the White House.  Like me, I’m sure you are so flabbergasted that the current administration recommends we de-fund the National Endowment of the Arts and a host of other vital, necessary programs that you are not sure what to do.  Stand up and scream?  Tell our stories?  In a moment of anger I asked my Facebook tribe to give me information on photographing a person with their hair literally on fire (safely of course…).


Now we know that Congress, not the president acting unilaterally, sets the budget.  So we do have some time to combat what I personally think are the policies of fools.  I’d like to take this time to urge you to do something that speaks directly to the policy makers, not only to your home representatives, but those in other states as well.


Find a list and make a call every day.


Text Resist to 50409 and use the app that lets you send letters through a text on your phone every day to your representatives.  It’s super quick and easy and that act of sharing your voice really can make a difference.  It really can show that the arts matter, that artists matter, and that we can and will insist on being heard.


Make a piece of art and email, fax or mail it to the representatives.  Show them art.  Resist with art.


Please, don’t just  content yourself with displaying your frustration to your friends on social media then moving on.  We all need to actually do something to make our voices heard.


This is not ok.


And in the midst of this, I wish you a Happy Spring. I know this season can bring beautiful things our way through art and through communication.

Dance Photography Workshop Reviews

We just wrapped up our first group photography workshop for dance photographers this past weekend, and I can truly say that  I think we all had such a wonderful time!

Eight photographers from all over the country traveled to NYC to cover a comprehensive topic list focused on shooting and building their businesses around dance photography.  The dancers we worked with were not only awesome to work with but generous with their feedback.  Workshop participants quickly became a close knit group, helping each other out and learning from each other’s questions.
dance photography workshop
Photo by Rachel Neville Photography Workshop participant
The first day we saturated our photographers with information and some test shooting.  The second day, we worked hard to have everyone think beyond their comfort zones, experiment with different lighting patterns, and shoot in new and creative ways.  Some of the photographers who attended our workshop were used to studio equipment.  For others, it was their first time playing with it.  All came away with an image or two that they (and I) could be proud of!
I want to take a moment to thank all who were involved in our dance photography workshop.  To the dancers, you were all wonderful!  To the participants, I thank you for your excellent questions, your ability to take in a huge amount of information in one weekend, and for your passion for our art.  I also want to thank Anna, my studio manager, for organizing, and Lydia, our intern, for keeping things running smoothly.
photography workshop for dance photographers nyc rachel neville studio
 Photo by Rachel Neville Photography Workshop participant
We all had such a great time that we have decided to run a Round Two within the year!
We’re already getting some wonderful reviews from photographers who attended the workshop.
“Easily it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had yet. The environment was really inviting, I learned a ton about dance photography, and made some really great friends. Overall a great experience.
Probably the most inspiring thing I saw was how genuine you were and ready to share what you knew with other photographers with the intent of helping us succeed and us helping more dancers succeed. There should be more people like you!”
Emily Northrop, Photographer and Workshop Participant
“What a pleasure meeting you, seeing your space and hearing your expertise!  I can honestly say I am inspired to be a better business woman and a more confident creative photographer.
Thank you again! I loved it!”
– Heather Sachleben, Heather Renee Photography and Workshop Participant

Share Your Experience

Did you attend our Dance Photographer Workshop?  Give us your feedback and remember to stay connected for more!