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!

Makeup Workshop for Dancers at Rachel Neville Photography Studio

Makeup skills are important for dancers.  The right makeup techniques are help you to present yourself on stage and off stage exactly the way you need to.

Because we are committed to helping dancers develop their careers using all the tools at their disposal, we are excited to be able to offer a brand new Makeup for Dancers Workshop with James Milligan.  James Milligan is our resident makeup artist, familiar to many of the dancers who come to our Long Island City dance photography studio.

makeup workshop for dancers

If you have worked with James, you know that he has an incredible depth of knowledge and talent, matched with a love for sharing his techniques, and his art, with others.  At the makeup workshop, James will share his amazing makeup tips and helpful suggestions that will have you feeling confident in your makeup skills for events, for photoshoots, and for the stage.

The Rachel Neville Makeup Workshop for Dancers

Friday, May 5, 2017
Rachel Neville Photography Studio
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
$125 per person

We have a limited number of seats available, so please, sign up now!

Learn more about how important makeup is for dance photos, dance auditions and the stage.



Sometimes we all need a little inspiration to do what we love, to live in love, and to spread love through our work and through our art.

Here is hoping that today is a day full of love, light, and inspiration for each and every one of you.

dance photography Rachel Neville concept photography love

Dancers Yui Sugawara and Jun Xia of Hong Kong Ballet Photo Rachel Neville

Find more inspiration on the blog and jump over to Facebook to tell us about how you spread love through dance today.

Workshop for Dance Photographers at Rachel Neville Photography Studio

Dance photographers from New York City and throughout the country have reached out to me requesting help with their photography work. Because I am so passionate about helping dancers create great content for their marketing and because I truly love what I do in my Long Island City photography studio every day, I am excited to be able to share some of my knowledge with my fellow dance photographers through an upcoming two-part, weekend long photography workshop.

At the March 11 – 12 workshop, we’ll be reviewing and discussing existing images, talking about how to make improvements, and how to build on the work photographers have done. We will also be creating an ‘I’d kill to be able to shoot’ list to help photographers pinpoint and achieve their goals.

NYC dance photographer Rachel Neville workshop

Mary Hansohn, Dancer Photographer Rachel Neville

For those who are interested, take a peek at the workshop. We have very few slots left, but if you are interested, drop me a line. We are putting together a waiting list, and a list for future workshops.

Day 1: Discussion with Photographers and Opportunity to Photograph Dancers

Some of the topics we will cover include shooting in the studio vs. shooting outdoors, photography gear and equipment, strategies for working with different types of dancers, and how to become aware of what dancers need in a dance photo shoot.

We will cover techniques from timing and focusing to camera functions, lens choices and some of the basics of lighting.

To round out Day 1 of the Rachel Neville Photography Workshop, we will discuss and put into practice tools for working the shoot effectively. From working with contemporary dancers vs. classical dancers, to understanding studio lighting and how to set up and work with tethering, workshop participants will gain solid footing in dance photography best practices.

workshop for dance photographers in NYC Rachel Neville Long Island City

Juliette Bosco, Dancer Photographer Rachel Neville

Day 2: Next Steps and More Practice with Dancers

On our second day of the photography workshop, we will look at timing shoots to get the most from your dancers, posing and working with a dancer’s lines, and individual vs. group photo shoots. We will also tackle the important topic of communicating with dancers, which includes understanding model agreements, licenses and usage.

We will dive deeper into the business of dance photography and techniques for creating high quality dance marketing materials. We will look at lighting for the body and mood, working with props, and tips for refining post production skills.

Day 2 will wrap with more time working directly with dancers, putting into practice everything we are covering in the workshop

It is a privilege to share knowledge with the dance photography industry and to help to build skills that deliver better experiences and better images and marketing materials for dancers.

Hands, Hands, Hands..

How to make your hands look good in photographs… let’s talk.

I recently had the chance to work with Erica Cornejo of Boston Ballet and this came up.  Within the first couple of shots, her delicious, expressive hands were something I immediately noticed.


You know how people who are into football excitedly shout at the TV for the Super Bowl?  Yah, that’s me, swooning over beautiful hands.  Erica and I had a moment as we talked about the importance of hands and how much she had worked on hers to make them so expressive.  In a single gesture she had me breathless.  The exacting placement of her fingers and how they generated the energy that she wanted to express… just priceless.  I could go on and on, but you’ll just have to go watch her dance, or find some videos (check her out on IG!).


Erica Cornejo, dancer Photo Rachel Neville


As a dance photographer in NYC, I deal with all kinds of hands, beautiful, not so beautiful, stiff, long fingered, short, round, octagonal (joking, haven’t seen any octagons yet)… so I have a few tricks to make hands look the way we want them to in dance audition photos.


First, energy runs through warmer hands more easily.  This means that warm hands are a must.  If you are the type of body that naturally runs on the colder side, do what you can to warm up your hands.



Erica Cornejo, dancer Photo Rachel Neville


Second, here’s the biggest trick: hands shoot best from the sides.  What ever movement or pose you are working on, pay attention to how your hands naturally line up with the camera.  You may need to rotate them in a slightly different direction than what comes naturally to you for the optimal photo.


Third: Fingers.  Take a moment to work through any finger issues you might have right before you move into the pose.  You don’t want to clench the shape into them, it’s more like you want to breathe the shape into them so the energy extends past the fingertips.

Encouragement for Artists in My Inbox

Hey guys, this just dropped into my email box this morning, it was in a marketing email put out by an artist I follow.  I’m always on the look out for interesting thoughts on anything that applies to dancers and artistic types, I hope you find this timely and helpful!  The quoted text below is from Brainard Carey.

(Stay tuned next week for a post I’m working on about effective use of hands for stage and in front of the camera!)

“‘Build your self-esteem by not thinking about it.’ So tweeted Yoko Ono recently and it got me thinking about the trap of confidence and self-esteem. For everyone, and perhaps for those in the arts especially, self-esteem and confidence can be fraught topics. Artists spend their lives exposing that which is innermost and personal. Not only do we put the depths of our being out into the world, we also open ourselves up to judgment by all who encounter this very personal work. Together, these things can make for a harsh environment at times.

It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of constant worry about self-confidence and self-esteem. We feel as though we must focus on these things in order to be sure they are up to the task of protecting us from the slings and arrows of the every day. Like anything, the more we dwell on these things the less we allow ourselves to truly live. It is all too easy to get caught in the trap of inner monologue and forget that there is a whole world happening around us…

Artists must expose themselves to annihilation again and again. That is not to say that they must constantly face harsh criticism for their work. Of course this is always a possibility, but when we refer to annihilation here we mean simply the very act of exposing our work to the world. This is how we escape the trap of constant worry about confidence and self-esteem. This is how we build it by not thinking about it.

The bottom line is that we do not need to understand the root cause of every single feeling and action. Rather we need to discontinue the behavior, in this case a rotating inner dialogue about our own worth and abilities, and replace with action. For those of us in the arts, this could feel entirely counter-intuitive. An inward focus is part and parcel of what we do so letting go of this can be a struggle. It takes intentional action to remove ourselves from the whirlpool of self-doubt that can cause us to ultimately freeze up. By taking small actions every day, exposing ourselves, despite the fear, to those situations that push us outside our comfort zone we begin to build new habits. This is one way of interpreting the words of Yoko Ono. This is one way to ‘build your self-esteem by not thinking about it.'”

The above is written by Brainard Carey, artist, author and educator. To sign up for a free webinar from Brainard Carey and get a booklet on how he got into the Whitney Biennial, click here  To learn more about his educational opportunities for artist click here to learn about Praxis Center for Aesthetics.