Your Images, Your Brand: Are you Choosing Wisely?

There are all different styles of photography out there. Are you choosing the right ones for your purposes?

In this second post in our series on marketing for professional and forward thinking pre-professionals dancers

You see it all around you: The sub par images that get a lot of attention. The photos of dancers that make you scratch your head and wonder why everyone likes them or why they get printed.  As a former dancer and ballet teacher, and now photographer, images like these drive me nuts. One of my biggest pet peeves is photo’s that are technically lacking, not due to the skill level of the dancer but more for the lack of attention to detail.

dance images for branding

But if you take a closer look, and think about who the images are reaching and who your dance photos are intended for, you may have your answer.  And you may learn a little bit about dance marketing basics in the process.

The proliferation of whacked out legs, feet and hyper mobile backs that you see all over Instagram definitely has an audience, as is evidenced by many accounts with huge followers.  Many of these post dancers in one of only 4 or 5 poses. (Yes, you know what I’m talking about, the attitude, arabesque, the crotchy, over stretched a la seconde, the Grand pas de chat and the rolling over your feet dangerously fourth position en pointe).

These dance images generally attract the younger audience and non-dance community. Even if we dance photography professionals get tired of looking at flexibility for the sake of flexibility, there is a market for it. This doesn’t mean that using these types of images will further your career or always offer artistic satisfaction, but they may serve a purpose if used occasionally.

Four styles of dance photography serve professionals best, and each has a particular following and purpose with a particular audience.

4 Types of Dance Photography Ideal for Dancers and Dance Companies

1) Performance/Rehearsal Shots

2) Behind the Scenes (BTS as its called in the film industry)

3) Location Images

4) Commercial Images

hoop aerial dance marketing

Before you put your images out there, think about your reach and your goals.  What do you have to say?  What’s important to you as a person, an artist, a dancer?

Next, consider who your followers are and who you would like them to be.

It’s a great idea to be more strategic with you images, to have them target your audience in an impactful way that will grab and hold their attention. Choosing dance photography images that come from your heart rather than your flexibility is a great start!

better angles for dance photos

Happy to have a conversation with you to discuss this important topic and how it applies to you.

Dance Photos and Fitness Photos: Working with Props

Working with props in a dance photo shoot or fitness photo shoot can be really effective or really cheesy…

It takes quite a bit of finessing to make props work well in dance and fitness photos.  Working with props is a fun choice for outdoor shoots as the weather gets warmer here in NYC, but they are more traditionally used in studio shoots.

Sarah Brower white chair dance photo

Sarah Brower

A variety of props, appropriate to your look and your objectives, work if you style them well, including fabric, leaves, flowers, strands.  A couple of weeks ago I pulled the bottom of a chair out of the recycling bin in our apartment building (yes, I troll for funky props for photoshoots, shhh).  We are starting to build up an eclectic mix  here at the studio, including a hand-less mannequin (that one was Anna’s find not mine, I’ll admit it!).

props for dance photo leaves
Jessica Cobb

To make the right choices so that props enhance, rather than distract or detract from your photos, remember these tips:

1) Pick lightweight props

The heavier the prop, the harder it is to make your body look good while working with it.

props for dance photo shoots
Turk Lewis, Complexions

2) If you are working with smoke make sure you disable the smoke alarm for the photo shoot

Smoke in a can, a smoke bomb, a smoke machine… anything of that nature, make sure to disable your smoke alarm first.  It’s not so fun to be in the middle of a really great shot and have to stop to grab the ladder to climb. Yup, happens all the time!

smoke props dance photos

Veronica Hernandez

Always remember to put the smoke alarm back in working order as soon as you are finished with the photo shoot.

3) It takes just as much time to get the props to look right as it does to get your body to look right

Think of adding a prop to a photo shoot  like adding a person… the more people in the shot the longer it takes to get a good one right?

props for dance photo shoots

Alexandra Adiel

Don’t leave the prop shot to the end of your shoot when you have only 5 minutes left.

4) Extra hands on the shoot are often necessary when working with props

You may need someone  on either side to throw the snow at your subject, not just one person.  OH, fake snow, by the way, super slippery.. beware of pointe shoes and snow!

white gossamer dance photo props

Courtney Lavine
5) Do not be afraid of your props!

I have saved an important prop photo tip for last.  Be careful of the expression on your face as you swing something around towards you, or throw it away from with all your energy.  This usually makes for the funniest faces before we focus on it for the shot.

hula hoop dance prop

Juliette Bosco

Are you working with props in dance and fitness photos?
Send me your prop photos for a photo contest… more details coming your way soon!

Dancers: 3 Tips for Better Headshots

For dancers, actors and executives, a good headshot can make a huge difference.  It is also an investment of time and money, so to prepare for the perfect headshot, make sure that you hire the right photographer and do some homework.

ABT dancer Courtney Lavine dance photographer Rachel Neville

Courtney Lavine, American Ballet Theater headshot by Rachel Neville

This way you will make the most of your head shot photo shoot and you will get exactly the look and feel you need for the dance headshots that make the difference for you.

3 Tips for Taking the Perfect Dance Headshot

Nadege Hottier Artistic Director Premiere Division Rachel Neville photo

Nadege Hottier, Artistic Director Premiere Division headshot Rachel Neville

1.  Think of the adjectives, or descriptors, that describe your unique personality and style. 

We can get a beautiful shot, but if it doesn’t communicate who you are and what you are bringing, that no one else is, that headshot is not doing its job.

James Pierce Lion King headshot Rachel Neville dance photographer

James A. Pierce III, Lion King headshot by Rachel Neville

2. Remember timing and schedule your photo shoot accordingly

I always remind dancers to to schedule their headshot photo shoot in advance to have enough time for retouching and quality printing before you need to bring them to auditions.

Jackie Bologna New York City Ballet headshot Rachel Neville dance photographer

Jackie Bologna, New York City Ballet headshot by Rachel Neville

3. Talk to your dance photographer about angles, color and lighting

When planning for your headshot with your dance photographer, remember to talk about all the elements that make the headshot powerful.  Talk with your dance headshot photographer about camera angles, background color and lighting.

Dance Theater of Harlem Davon Doane DTH photo Rachel Neville

Davon Doane, Dance Theater of Harlem headshot by Rachel Neville

Every choice you and your photographer make can deliver subtle messages about who you are.  We often shoot dancer headshots right at eye level or slightly above to help project confidence as well as willingness to take direction, both of which dance directors and choreographers are looking for at dance auditions.

Dancing in the Snow

I’m sooo over this cold!  If you are here on the north east coast, you know what I mean: there is just no amount of hot chocolate, warm fires, whiskey, good sex (hehe, yes you heard me right) that makes this ok now. I’m done.
snow photos central park
So in that spirit, I wanted to say ‘screw you’ to the weather a couple of weeks ago and do an outdoor photo shoot with some dancers.  Brave? Yes.  But not on my part, on theirs.  I think the idea of shooting in the snow is very inciting when you get together with a bunch of devoted people who will do anything for their art.  Then when the reality of actually doing it sets in 2 seconds after they fling their coats off and go bounding through the snow.. well the reality is really something else!
central park photos snow 2015
I put out an open call on Facebook and invited anyone who wanted to shoot to meet at Central Park from 1pm – 2pm.  We had about 20 people sign up and about 12 show up (what I expected, it’s hard to leave your snug and cozy bed on a snow day!).
photos guys in snow
Now guys, I’m from Canada, we know snow.  I prepared the dancers by letting them know that we needed ideas to work with that fully formed from the beginning;  when the clothes come off not only do you have just about 2 minutes before your muscles start to shut down but your brain stops thinking because it can mostly only cope with the temperature. I also knew from my perspective that using all natural light (I usually augment with strobes outside to create the look I want) was going to allow us to work more quickly, so we (my #1 assistant Anna and I) were traveling light and fast.
dancers snow day fun nyc central park
Even having everyone prepped ahead of time, there were definitely some gasps and some fun but frozen looks on their faces.  Crowds gathered. Reporters annoyed.. but overall I think a fun and freezing time was had by all.
black white snow photos street lamo central park
And here is what we did!
black white photo bare trees central park nyc
ice blue leotard bare feet snow
snow day photos central park nyc dance
Big thanks to all of the dancers who came out in the cold.  Let them tell you what the experience was like…
bright blue leotard outdoors
Such a magical day! I was able to let my daredevil play in a winter wonderland in Central Park NYC in booty shorts! Ha! Carpe Diem! Many thanks Rachel!  – Miki Michelle
nyc central park bridge white coat
I only get naked in the snow for one lady….and she’s married with kids lol. – Brian Jones
The fastest photo shoot I’ve ever done. Hit it and quit it! – Emiko FlanaganIt’s really hard to jump in the snow! I have a new respect for Siberian Huskies. – Billy Blanken

dance central park
Thanks bunches, Rachel. – Kat WildishThank you Rachel and everyone who was there for this special NYC memory! It was great to see how awesome everyone looked in their photos in spite of the cold. – Nicole Fedorov

central park path ice blue leotard
I don’t remember the last time I was so cold but I can’t think of a better way to have spent the snow day or better people to have spent it with! – Daniel Salas
central park black white snow photoThanks Rachel for this freezing and wonderful experience. I had lot of fun! – Luz Marie Iturbe Oritz

snow in nyc

Filled with Gratitude – for all of you!

As we come to the end of the first month of 2015 I am still filled with the excitement of the new year and full of good wishes for all of you as we move ahead through this great year.

LIC photography studio dance  photographer Rachel Neville

Celestin Boutin, Photo Rachel Neville Photography at Long Island City Dance Photography Studio

I’m in the middle of a moment of extreme gratitude for all that happened in 2014, and I want to share it with all of you who are so important to me.  It’s been a dream of mine to have my own studio, built specifically for the kind of dance photography and fitness photographs I create.

dance photographer rachel neville LIC dance photography studio

Jessica Cobb, Photo Rachel Neville Photography at Long Island City Dance Photography Studio

I’m so grateful for all of you, for your support, continued trust and your positive energy.  It is your energy that helps make this kind of dance and movement photography possible.  It is what we are able to do together, with your energy and mine, in this studio space in Long Island City, that makes great photography possible.

blue paint splash hoop power dancer concept photography dance rachel neville nyc rachel neville photography

 

Photo Rachel Neville Photography at Long Island City Dance Photography Studio

With my 18 foot wide cyc (with sprung floor… my dream!), and space to store backgrounds, loads of props, costumes, leotards and more of my toys (killer equipment) than ever before, I truly feel like my work has been able to spread its wings.  I have the clients who constantly allow me to get creative and expand my mind and create new ideas together.  Thank you for that!

dancers studio shots couple Rachel Neville Phtoography NYC Photography Studio dancers

Photo Rachel Neville Photography at Long Island City Dance Photography Studio

Raising a glass to all that is to come throughout the year, please join me!
concept photography dance studio shots rachel neville
Ashley Mayeux, Photo Rachel Neville Photography at Long Island City Dance Photography Studio

Take the Wheel – What do you want to hear?

Hey, I want to hear from you!

I was sitting in a cab on the way home last night, well surviving a cab ride, really. It seemed as though the driver had some affinity for smelly dinners, and we were stuck for more than an hour behind an accident on the 495.

I decided to distract myself from thoughts of jumping out the window and walking in the frigid cold down the highway, or googling a way to put the driver to sleep so I could open the windows, crank the heat and take over the cab, by thinking about what would most serve you all on the blog this week.

What topics would you most like to know about, get information on, get hooked into? What do you most want to know about?

dance photographer Rachel Neville photos for dance marketing and auditions

Juliette Bosco, photo by Rachel Neville

Whether it’s audition photos, fitness marketing, photoshoots, or something else, what are you focused on this week?

So, while hiding my nose in my sleeve, I decided to ask you all for input!

Drop me a line here… I’ll not only answer your questions, but I’ll give 2 of you who submit a question to me a pretty significant discount on a photo shoot.  Just for taking a minute of your time to stop, think, and shoot me an email.

Really, I thank you in advance since even just the act of writing this helped distract me from that smelly car!

What I Want to Hear

Tell me now… and be the lucky winner to collect your photoshoot discount.

NYC Trainer Kira Stokes: How to Amp up Your Fitness Brand with Images

I have been having a great time working with Kira Stokes, an NYC trainer who works with celebrity clients and has, over the better part of two decades, built a strong, powerful and engaging presence in the fitness world.

Recently, Kira signed a deal with BFX Studio and will be available to clients exclusively through BFX.  Kira says that this new phase for her fitness business is “a dream come true.”

Kira Stokes BFX fitness Rachel Neville photographer

 

With it, came a need for more amped-up fitness branding. We tackled the project together, working to create images that speak to the strength, power and energy that is Kira. These are the elements that make her uniquely her and, in addition to her expertise, they are what make her so appealing to her clients.

NYC trainer Kira Stokes BFX Photo Rachel Neville

I have talked before about asking what you want your images to say about you when you are creating fitness branding. You can see in these photos that Kira’s brand is starting to speak. You get to know what kind of experience you can expect when you work with her, just by looking at the images. That is a huge part of getting the job done with images for branding and marketing for fitness businesses.

celebrity trainer Kira Stokes fitness photo Rachel Neville

And it’s working!  In the past week, Kira has been featured on NY1 and on the popular fitness blog well + good.

Ask me how you can use images to create your fitness brand!