Recently, we did a mini-photoshoot at the Rachel Neville Photography Studio in NYC with a group of dancers from the Richmond Ballet. After the shoot, we caught up with dancers Mara Milner, Anna Sundquist and Alexandra Lammon who shared what it was like to work with Rachel Neville, the kind of preparation needed before the dance photo shoot, and the lessons they learned from the photo shoot.
How would you describe the experience of shooting with Rachel?
Shooting with Rachel was unlike any other photoshoot I have ever experienced. Instead of spending a few hours taking some photos, I left feeling like I had just completed a course in Audition 101. Rachel has such an incredible eye for both dance and photography and it seemed like every suggestion she threw my way immensely improved the final product.
I especially appreciated how she wasn’t afraid to tell it how it is. From giving leotard and pointe shoe advice to yelling at me when I wasn’t reaching my full potential in a shot, she really knows just the right way to motivate her clients and do the best she can to help them be successful in this industry.
She is such a knowledgeable reference in the dance world and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the 11 hours we spent at her studio!
Mara Milner, Richmond Ballet Photo Rachel Neville
How did it feel to participate in the photoshoot with your fellow dancers?
It was so helpful to be working and learning alongside my colleagues and friends. From the second we stepped into Rachel’s studio, I immediately felt more comfortable than I would have been, had I been alone. With music playing, the atmosphere felt like our dressing room at the theater. The positive feedback from both Rachel and my friends when we nailed a photo was so reassuring.
In addition to giving us a chance to rest a bit in between poses, I learned so much from observing the other dancers being shot and hearing the compliments and critiques coming from Rachel. Feeling what Rachel is suggesting is useful, but sometimes, seeing those changes on another body can be even more advantageous.
What is the biggest challenge for you during the photo shoot?
For me, the biggest challenge was describing myself as a dancer in order for Rachel to get the shots to best portray me. Throughout the day, the photos, talking with Rachel, and support from my friends, I came out of the shoot with a much better idea of who I am as a dancer and how I can use that towards my advantage.
Anna Sundquist, Richmond Ballet Photo Rachel Neville
What did you enjoy most during your Rachel Neville Photography dance photoshoot?
My favorite thing was seeing the evolution of each pose. At first, the pose might have looked alright, but as we tweaked it, the photo became extraordinary. Rachel’s tips and corrections made all the difference. She also encouraged us to be more artistic with our arms and experiment, to find what looked best.
What is the biggest challenge for you when you prepare for a photo shoot?
For me, my biggest challenge is getting my confidence up. I can be very insecure and compare myself to others and think I won’t be good enough.
Alexandra Lammon, Richmond Ballet Photo Rachel Neville
What would you tell other dancers who are preparing for a photo shoot – any tips or tricks to remember?
Definitely let your ego out the window and trust in Rachel. She has a great eye for things and may do something the unconventional way, but you won’t be disappointed with the results. Keep your head up, just because the dancer next to you is doing something does not mean you’re supposed to be able to do it also. Everyone is different and unique. You’ll shine more being your own person than trying to copy someone else.
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