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!

Dance Photos that Make you Stop, Think, Act: Time to Answer the Big Question

Passion? Softness? Energy? Nuance? Elegance? Fierceness? Crazy lines and shapes, bodies that can contort…

This has been a hot topic of conversation at my studio lately. What gives a picture the power to hold your attention? What makes you stop and look at it for more than the 1-2 seconds you normally give to the images you are inundated with every day?

The Wow Factor of course is largely dependent on the audience. A great example is the attention I’m paying to my Instagram account. Now I’m not the photographer who has a crazy number of followers, just a little over 2000 (yes, I was a little late to the party and joined up this past April), but I do want to provide content that my followers enjoy, and to connect with more people who want to see what I do. So I’m paying attention to what people like, what people want to share and comment on.  Seeing what makes people stop in their tracks.

rachel neville dance photos concepts blue feathers bare feet

Interestingly, the images that I post that have a special place in my heart, those that happen to be more along the lines of my conceptual, more personal work, tend to gain fewer ‘likes’ than shots of individual dancers with either super great lines or with awesome props.

The scoring on this is purely based on the transient ‘like’ which is by no means a scientific analysis.  There are many factors at play here, including day and time of day I post. However, the trend is fairly strong.  And from there you can start to draw some conclusions about what kinds of dance photos resonate with audiences.  And that is something that, as a dancer, you need to know.  The same is true for fitness photos.  What fitness photos make potential clients stop in their tracks and say “that’s what I want”?

So the larger question for all dancers, dance companies and fitness professionals to consider is what images make people stop, think and respond.

black and white fitness photos rachel neville

Consider what types of images will make your clients or your audience stop in their tracks and pay attention.  Then work with your dance photographer to create them to deliver powerful dance audition photos or fitness marketing images.

If you’re not sure, before you consult with your dance and movement photographer, ask yourself these questions:

What do you want to see more of?

What images do you  like most?

Do you feel like you need to present a certain look or style in your dance photos and at auditions?  

Does this look connect to who you are, what you want to do, and what makes you stop and look?

Share your answers in the comments!

Color, Texture, Angle, Space: How Photos Communicate

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working on updating some of the images on my website and beginning new projects to re-vamp my book.  A bit of a task yes, but so excellent because it’s forcing me to really look at who I am as a photographer, what my vision is and how what I do makes an impact on the lives and work of my dance, movement and fitness photography clients.

The defining thing that I’ve been thinking about is not just what I like to shoot, but what gets dancers and movement professionals noticed?  What images speak to get your foot in the door?  What makes your images stand out and get you the results (more jobs, more clients, a contract, more tickets purchased for performances) that my photography clients need?

Initially, the common concern for many of my dancers and movement professionals is that they want to look their best.  They want to have the right lines.  Ok great, that’s easily here in the tool box.  I’m a former dancer and teacher, so I address these concerns naturally and give my clients the confidence they need for great dance and fitness photos.  But what else?

What colors, textures, angles, feelings can we pull out?  What can we do to make your images exciting, to give them a visual impact that makes your audience stop and look at you?  What makes your work different and how can we bring that to light in images

These are the important questions that not every dance photographer or fitness photographer will ask.  And this is where your images can really stand out for you.  Here is some of the new work I’ve been doing with just those themes: color, textures and spacial features?

In the next few weeks I will be writing a series of posts talking about each of these themes and how understanding them and using them can transform your photos and truly make them work hard for you.

When you look at these images, which ones stand out to you the most?  Do you respond to color, texture, angle?  What do you feel when you see certain colors, textures or angles in a shot?  And what do you want people to feel when they look at your photo?

performing arts photographer Rachel Neville purple cello
black white dancer 3d box rachel neville photography
red color and texture for dance photography rachel neville
props contrast color space dance photography rachel neville
pink gray dance photo rachel neville