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Do your homework – 5 tips for posing dancers and performers!

So this is for me the basics if you want to make things work and get the most out of your photoshoot with dancers and performers in general...

Do your homework, as suggested in the title, basically do a little research beforehand.

If you can learn a little bit more about your model, their experience, what they are specialized in, how long they have been performing and the type of productions they have been into and so on, you will do a better job!

Knowing his or her weaknesses and strengths helps a lot. You don't want to ask them things they cannot do, your job is to help them shine and be their best. On top of that, the other great thing is that you will save valuable time during your session.

Whatever the dance style, go watch performances... From ballet to hip-hop, you have to know a minimum about what you are about to shoot.

Knowing the history can also help, being able to recognize the different styles is mandatory! Go watch classical ballets and contemporary pieces it won't harm you and the worst that can happen is that you might have a good time. Learn to understand dancing in general, and get used to watching them move!

You can go as far as learning the vocabulary, the names behind certain moves, steps, and poses, which will greatly help you to communicate with them.

What leads to failure when shooting performers is bad or the lack of communication because we don't speak the same language.

So here is a simple approach to help you succeed, something I rely on, kind of the basics when I shoot performers.

1/ the location!

Is it busy or not? If you have loads of details in the background or around your subject keep it simple. A pose or move anyone can understand... not something too small, too compact, we have to know roughly where the limbs are and what is actually happening.

I personally use wide-angle lenses a lot, and sometimes my background is as important as the model.

Here in this picture of Anjara, I asked her to look up to compensate for the empty space above her head, of course, the red dress helps to catch the viewer's eye.

5d mark III / 24 - 70mm f2.8L Mark II 1/200s at f5.6 ISO100 - 24mm

Anjara Ballesteros - Menton (France)

If you have a simple plain, refined, clean, modern background, then you can go wild and choose to go for much more complex forms and shapes with your performer.

2/ Size in the frame

Depending on how much of the background you will include in the shot and the size of your model in your photo, a particular pose may or may not work. We talked about complex poses, shapes, and forms before, well if your picture is essentially centered on your subject, if the subject takes more than 50 % of the image you can almost do whatever you want. People will right away be drawn by the performance and the background will not really matter.

5d mark III / 85mm f1.8 1/800s at f2.5 ISO100 - 85mm