Audition Photo Tips: How to Prepare for a Photo Shoot

Audition Photos Series

This is the third post in our new series, Everything Dancers Need to Know About Audition Photos. Read the first installment.
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Christina Schifano photo by Rachel Neville
Christina Schifano, now working for Colorado Ballet

Picking up from last week’s post, let’s assume you’ve spent the time researching your target companies/audience and looking at a whole lot of dance photography.  You know where you would like to send your images and information and you know what type of images you want to be able to send.  Now what’s next?

 1)   Contact and speak with/email a photographer(s) whose work you like, find out if the photographer is a good fit for you and your budget (learn more).
2)   Review with the photographer what you need and want.  Make sure your photographer has a clear understanding of your goals and what you would like to look like, coming up with a rough plan for your shoot. Start planning some of the poses you might like to try so that you will have a place to start once you are in front of the lens (more on this coming soon!).
3)   If the photographer you select was not a dancer, make sure that you ask a dancer friend/teacher to come with you on the day of the shoot.
4)  Select a day and time for your shoot.  Try not to book your audition photo shoot on a day when you have many other activities (root canals, math exams!), numerous classes or rehearsals.  You want to be able to commit full energy and focus to what you are doing.
5)    Review your plan: select hair, makeup, clothing/costumes and shoes appropriately.  Our upcoming What to (and What Not to) Wear to Your Audition Photo Shoot will go in more detail, but start this process at least a week in advance so you have time to go shopping if you need to.  Plan to bring several more options than you initially think you need.  Once you start shooting some things might work and others might not, depending on your poses, movements, backgrounds and lighting.  If you are interested in using props, keep them simple for audition photos (scarves, hats, strands of pearls, a stool or chair).
6)    If you are also doing headshots you might consider hair and makeup.  Talk to your photographer about your options here. Ladies, in general, go for a fairly natural look, a step up from street makeup and two steps down from stage makeup.  Men, make sure to bring at least some powder and chapstick.  Chapped lips are very hard and thus often expensive to re-touch.
7)    Obvious, yes, but it needs to be mentioned: get a good amount of sleep the night before you shoot and eat well.
8)     The day of the photo shoot, you need to find the balance of how much to eat to keep you in full form versus what might make you feel sluggish during the shoot.  Light snacks are a good idea as well as juices and water to keep you hydrated.  Fruit and power bars I see in my studio on a regular basis.
9)    Warm Up: I often suggest to my clients that taking class before hand is a good idea but you might want to leave 1/2 way or after barre.  Within a 2-4 hour shooting session you will leave it all out there, 110% of you again and again and again… so reserve yourself.
10)    Arrive at your shoot location with plenty of time to prepare and further warm up and relax.
Danny Soto Fela! original Broadway cast photo by Rachel Neville
Danny Soto, original Broadway cast member of Fela!
What Should You Pack in Your Bag (or suitcase, as many of my clients bring)?
  • Tights/Leotards and clothing items/costumes
  • Warm Up Clothes that are easy to pull on and off
  • Any undergarments or undi-tards that you might need
  • In the case of headshots, a good selection of tops with different necklines (solid colors best, texture is always nice)
  • All possible shoes to be used (Do not, do not,  bring just one pair of pointe shoes to a shoot.  You never know how soft or hard a shoe you will want for a different movements and god forbid a pair breaks on you)
  • Socks that don’t leave lines on your ankles to keep your feet clean if you are planning shots in bare feet.
  • Hair items and accessories
  • Makeup and hand mirror
  • Jewelery if you wear it.  Go simple here, studs or small earrings for dance shots, you might want something funkier for fun or more contemporary shots or your headshots.  They should not detract from you but can add to your personality if used appropriately.
  • Snacks and water
  • Music that gets you in the mood.  Most studios will be able to plug in your play list and it makes a huge difference to have playing what gets you in the moods you need to be in for great shots.
  • Towel
  • Wet Wipes for emergencies
  • Small Sewing Kit with scissors and safety pins
Until next week!

Audition Photos Series

This is the third 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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