Audition Photo Tips: Research To Do Ahead of Time

Audition Photos Series

This is the second post in our new series, Everything Dancers Need to Know About Audition Photos. Read the first installment.
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Audition Photo Tips: Research To Do Ahead of Time

As a freelance photographer, I seem to spend so much time thinking about marketing (and not enough time doing it, but that is another conversation…).  As a sole proprietor this is one of my least favorite hats to wear: who really likes talking about themselves and getting people to ‘like’ their work on Facebook and other sites?  So I really understand that this is not an area where dancers like to spend much of their time.

Igor Tauber Ellison Ballet Dance Audition Photos by Rachel Neville
Igor Tauber, Ellison Ballet

I’d rather be shooting something cool than talking about it.  Wouldn’t you rather be in the studio rehearsing and training instead of doing research, getting organized, building a website and finding footage for your reel??  Yah, thought so.

But your audition shots are so important, and they are not the place to sell yourself short.  Dancers spend upwards of 6-8 hours in a studio almost every day, feeling good, feeling great, feeling crappy, working their tails off, to get to the point where they feel good enough to start looking for a job (not to mention the huge investment made by parents and the constant support group of teachers).  By spending the time and energy to market yourself properly you not only show your prospective Artistic Director that you take yourself and the job seriously, but that you do not take his or her time for granted and that you appreciate them by taking the time and making the effort to present yourself at your best.

The old adage is so true: you don’t ever get a second chance to make a first impression (or a last one, for that matter).

So where do you start?  Two things are commonly used to send to directors to get their attention, whether individually, in website format, or both: Pictures and Reels.  Well, as I’m a photographer and not a videographer, I’ll stick to talking about what I’m best at: photographs (though if you need more information on reels and editing them, contact me as I can put you in touch with a few people who are really good at that).

Brandon Austin, Philadelphia University of Arts

Before you even contact a photographer, you should know two things:

1) Where/who you want to audition for

2) What type of pictures you personally like to look at.

So, essentially, it’s research time.

Spend the time to gather lists of companies and as much information about them as possible.  What is their Rep? How many dancers? What is their dancer turn-over?  What do their dancers look like?  Would you be a good fit? Would you be happy working in a particular company’s environment? What do you think the director of that company looks for in a new hire?  Are you also interested in smaller or pick-up companies? What type of movement would tickle your toes to do every day?

The more information you have the better able you will be able to target the audiences of those companies with the images (and ultimately, in the audition, the dancing) that you need.

What types of images do you like?

There is a ton of good (and even more bad, for that matter) dance photography out there.  What do you like best? Do you prefer dark and moody; light and airy; color; crazy poses; or the simplest of clean lines?  Look around in dance magazines and on the internet.  If you are not sure what really speaks to you, find out!

Once you start to answer these questions, you will be able to make sure that what you love will work for the audience/director you want to see the images and you can start to reflect on what company situation would make you most happy!

Audition Photos Series

This is the second post in our new series, Everything Dancers Need to Know About Audition Photos.  Read the first installment.

Get Audition Tips delivered direct to your Inbox.


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