How to Photograph Dance Performances

Dance is timeless. Since the dawn of men, it has been a way of communicating to the gods and a way of showing ideas and savage emotions. To this day, moving with grace and passion can take us to a higher plane of existence and capturing these movements is a true art form in itself. The following is a list of tips guaranteed to help you capture those elusive dance moments:

Communicate with your subjects – dancers are people who are in tune with their bodies and can visualize what they would look like when you take their picture. It would be helpful for you to speak to the performers to tell them what your intentions and goals are and what you want to capture from your images of them. The dancers can even share ideas with you and help you attain those goals. They can also adjust their poses to fit your needs. Much like portrait photography, dance photography can have better results when the subject and the photographer communicate with each other.

Incorporate the backdrop to your image – the set, lighting and props are as much a part of the performance as the dancers themselves. Experiment with a variety of angles such as shoot from the side or straight forward. Take into consideration the details of the backdrop in unison with the performers and how they relate to each other. Don’t forget to take images of the overall setting or the stage.

Take advantage of lighting for more visual impact – when shooting in a studio, you can have more control of lighting and can make use of large even lighting so that the dancer can move around and still be adequately illuminated. You can control the direction of the light and have it come from the side or even the top for more dramatic effects. Sunlight usually takes care of outdoor dances.

Consider shooting during full dress rehearsals or behind the scenes – it would be good to shoot during full dress rehearsals rather than the actual performance itself. Here, you will have a lot more space to maneuver yourself and your equipment. These can get you better photographs. When trying to capture backstage images, look for spots where performers are lost in their thoughts or busy practicing their movements or simply stretching before their act. If you have taken your performance shots during rehearsals, come the big day when the actual performance happens, you can take backstage shots of performers instead and catch the excitement of them readying themselves.

Use the dancers’ costumes to add to the visual impact – dance performances are often events of beauty, energy and movement and one huge element that provides visual effects is the costume. The dainty and ethereal tutus of ballet dancers add to the aura of grace and softness, while the giant headdresses of Las Vegas lady dancers provide drama and spectacle.

Envision the story you want to depict- base the images you capture on the type of setting or location where the dance will take place. There are several opportunities where you can capture the performers. One is while they are onstage during the actual performance, another is during rehearsals in the studio or on stage and still another is a location where they might be doing a publicity shoot. The location of the dance affects the outcome of the image.

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