Dance & Movement Photography
Welcome, I am a New York City based photographer, specializing in dance, motion, and action shots.
My photos have been used in magazines, newspapers, book covers, and DVD cases.
Here is my breakdown of the different types of dance photography:
Stage Dance Shoots:
I try to budget about two hours for a one company dress rehearsal shoot. That's usually enough time to capture some of the Tech, and a couple run throughs of the piece, preferably in full costume. My camera has a silent mode and I have a sound muzzle I put over it on occasions when people ask me to shoot actual performances. Depending on the space and the audience, and the music volume, this can work well, although I can't move around like I would during a rehearsal.
My golden rule for stage photography is that quantity equals quality. Dancers are often moving so fast that the opportunities for good shots are myriad, which means you have to shoot fast and furious too. The more photos I take the more likely it becomes to capture those special shots that will endure.
During stage shoots you are often at the mercy of a lighting designer. Choreographer's and light designers tend to prefer somber moody lighting. And while modern cameras can shoot even in very low light, it is still true that brighter light means higher quality photos. Some front lighting is also important as it lights up dancer's faces making for more interesting photos than shadowy heads with big raccoon eyes. The best venues for photography have white backdrops where projected light of any color reflects and helps illuminate the scene. Light colored flooring is also a boon for the photos, as are the increasingly common LED lights.
Dress rehearsals are usually fun, and it is great to be able to catch a sneak peek of a show. But because of the low light and the nonstop action there is always a huge amount of post-production involved–– a two hour rehearsal shoot is usually followed by about six hours of computer work.
Studio Dance photography :
In terms of getting high quality shots for yourself or your company's promotion you can't beat studio sessions. Studio shots allow perfectly controlled and replicable lighting that produces consistently excellent results. A small studio is usually large enough for two or three dancers, and they can easily split the cost of the shoot. While a larger studio can handle eight or more dancers.
I don't have a studio but I have a favorite place that I rent by the hour that is great for photos. I use flash strobe lights, and prefer white or black backgrounds. Typically the dancer will bring two or three outfit changes. I have a sheet of suggested poses, but usually things work out organically.
I usually work alone without any assistants. Dancers are welcome to bring a friend to solo shoots for company or to help with hair and makeup.
I am always happy to take some headshots in addition to dance shots at no extra charge.
Outdoor Urban Dance photography :
Outdoor shoots around the city with dancers looking for portfolio shots can be a lot of fun when the weather is cooperating. My favorite locations are usually near the water and involve bridges. Dance photos outside involve a lot of walking around and experimenting with different spots. There are unpredictable variables like tourists and construction to work around. It can be a challenge to get good shots out in public, but it can also be very rewarding when you capture the dancer and the backdrop of the city around them as well.
Outdoors it is sometimes helpful to move the focus from featuring a dancer's skills to making an interesting and unusual photo of a dancer inhabiting our mundane world. Outdoor shoots are the most collaborative type of dance shoot as it requires creativity and improvisation from the dancer as well as the photographer. They are the cheapest option as well since there are no studio rental costs and post production isn't usually too heavy.
Dance Classes and Rehearsals
Sometimes choreographers and dance teachers just want to document a class or an early stage rehearsal. I am also happy to do this type of shoot. While this is usually not the best situation for getting outstanding photos, as dancers are wearing sweats, and still learning routines, it is still interesting and useful to have a record of the behind the scenes process and learning stages. I can bring a light with me, which often kicks things up a notch. Dedicating a few minutes before or after for a few posed shots is a great idea.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much do you charge?
Prices vary depending on the complexity, duration, and location. Please email me for a quote. My rates are very affordable and if you let me know your budget I will very likely be able to work with it. Thanks!
How will you deliver my photos?
I usually end up with somewhere around 300 photos, and will deliver them via Dropbox. It usually takes me anywhere from 1 to 8 days to go through a shoot. I take a lot of photos and I need to go through them one by one to pare them down to a manageable amount. If you need a few quick photos for publicity reasons let me know and I can pull a few quick winners from the herd.
How do I get some great dance promo shots?
I strongly recommend studio shoots as the best option as they typically produce much more impressive shots than theater rehearsals or outdoor shots. I use flash monolights for studio shoots. Click here to see some recent photos examples. My favorite studio to rent at the moment is:
Can I publish the photos anywhere?
Yes. The whole point of the shoot is for you to promote your Self/Company/Brand in any way you can. Going into the shoot the implicit expectation is that you will use the photos on the web, and possibly in print. Clients should be aware, however, that copyright always resides with the photographer. What you are paying for is simply a license to use the photos. What you cannot do is sell the photos for commercial gain. As with any photo taken of you the picture automatically becomes part of the photographer’s body of work. Which is why photo credits are expected and appreciated. Some clients may insist on purchasing the copyright so that they have complete control over the photos. This is an option, but I would usually charge 6x my standard rate.
Do you shoot Dancer Portfolios?
I am happy to set-up shoots directly with dancers or dance students who are looking for images to use on their own personal websites or in social media. This type of shoot provides undivided attention for just one dancer and allows the photographer and model to collaborate on a particular artistic vision.
What equipment do you use?
I use a Sony A7riii which takes amazing photos in low light and can be completely silent for performances. I have portable strobe lights, a reflector, and a variety of backgrounds. I do not have a studio, but I can rent one if needed. I have a list of links affordable places I've shot in that I can email you.
Do you shoot performances and rehearsals?
Yes, I do. Rehearsals are usually better as it is less intrusive then taking pictures during a show, and will often result in better photos as I can position myself where I like. I do have a muffler case for my camera to try and minimize the shutter sound when taking photos during a performance. I do my best to be discreet and unintrusive while getting the best possible photos. I do like to have a spot up front, as shooting from the back of a performance space is more difficult, and is usually not the best angle.
Do you do other Photography like Headshots?
While ninety-percent of my time is spent on dance photography, I do like to shoot many other subjects as well, including–– concerts, headshots, fashion, book covers, web promotional, and others. You can see some of my headshot work here. To see examples of photos in other genres just email me and I will send you a link! I don't generally do any event photography.
Do you have contracts?
I like to keep things simple and easy, so I do not typically use a contract for my shoots. But I can provide one at your request. I find photography to be a fairly straightforward transaction, where common sense and basic decency prevails. Also, email records often serve the function of documenting what is expected from each party quite well. It should also be understood going in that if a client is unhappy with the photos that the most they can expect from me is a re-shoot or a full refund.
Can you send me an invoice afterwards?
Yes, if you ask me for an invoice or receipt I will happily provide you with one.
Do you offer any guarantees?
Yes. If you are unhappy with the photos for any reason and don’t feel you can use them, then there will be no charge, and no questions asked.