Pole photoshoots can be more daunting and challenging than a performance in many ways. You should put some time and effort into planning your shoot. A phenomenal photoshoot isn’t all about the photographer’s price tag but how much you invest into the prep work. Your prep work will show in the results. Here are some tips to prepare to make your shoot spectacular:
1. Decide Your Theme or Concept
If you have an overall vision for your photo shoot, it will help guide the rest of your choices. Experienced sports photographers are pricey, especially for dance photos. Look at their portfolios and select one with style aligned with your theme.
Some photographers can switch between types, but they often have a signature that will come out in their photos. Assess if they will capture more strong, feminine, whimsical, or sensual shots for you. Once you have your theme and photographer, you can move on to outfits.
2. Pick Your Pole Dance Outfits
The number one mistake is selecting an outfit that isn’t polewear or something you can wear to class. You won't have enough grip or coverage for your shoot if you don’t have enough for a workout.
Give your chosen outfit a trial run at class or home to see if it will hold up through your inversions or split moves. The same goes for heels: if you plan to wear pole dancer shoes, ensure they fit well and you are comfortable performing in them before the shoot.
Consider your shoot’s location. It doesn’t take much to make a standard photo look striking. For example, if the background has some orange throughout, wear a complementing blue that will pop in the images. Or, if your site has good lighting, choose something nearly sheer or translucent to capture some dramatic lines you otherwise wouldn’t be able to accomplish.
3. Choose Your Poses
Like any other professional photoshoot, you should know what you want regarding pictures. If you know what you want, make a list. Build your list with a few easier warm-up moves at the beginning with your must-have next.
After those, put in your final moves and a few backups if you have extra time. You’ll probably be nervous and forget the plan unless you write it down. The photographer can refer to the list and call out the next move to keep things progressing.
If you plan on a costume change during the shoot, try to build it in when you’ll need a break. For example, perform your most challenging move at the end of the run with your first costume. Then, give your shoulder muscles a break while you change. After that, you’ll be refreshed for another, more complex pose after the change.
Remember that you will hold the poses longer than usual to get the photos, so don’t choose any moves you’ve just barely mastered or that still feel a little shaky. Play to your strengths and choose moves you’re comfortable enough with that you can focus on the finer details like your finger placement, pointed toes, and facial expressions. One awkward hand placement will ruin a photo guaranteed.
4. Treat Your Shoot Like A Performance
You would have a dress rehearsal if you were doing a performance or competition. You should do the same for your photoshoot. Grab a friend to stand in for the photographer while you run through your moves list in costume. They can grab photos so you can see how they look in your outfit and if you need to adjust your body placement.
You can even show the shots your friend captured to your photographer, while adding your notes about how you would like a frame to look. If you don’t include a trial picture of yourself, you can grab an ideal photo online to show your photographer your goal.
Like an exhibition, you don’t want to overtrain leading up to your shoot. Have light sessions that will keep you limber without overdoing it, leading to soreness and not-so-pretty bruises for your photos. Afterward, don’t forget to cool down and stretch. Make sure you schedule a rest day with plenty of rehydration and food.
5. Tips for The Day
Ensure you get up early enough to eat a good meal one to two hours before your shoot. Have your hair and makeup finished before you arrive so you only have to warm up, and get dressed before starting your shoot. Bring emergency makeup and hair touch-up products just in case you need them throughout.
Other things to bring in your dance bag are:
- Your standard dance towels for you and the pole with backups (as you may sweat more than you would in class)
- Your costumes, shoes, and props
- Plenty of water with a straw so you don’t mess up your makeup
- Easy-to-eat snacks to keep you on time and free of crumbs or other food fiascos on your costume
- Your list of pole moves for the day. Have one for the photographer with your example photos and one for yourself with notes on placements that you can review before each pose
- Face/makeup wipes for your feet as the floor can be dirty. You’ll want to wipe your feet before each pose, so they photograph clean throughout
When in doubt, always go basic and have fun. You’re paying the photographer to take flattering photos of you, and performing an easier move you enjoy will show through in the pictures.
The same goes for your pole dancer outfits. Don’t go overly complicated. If you do, you could feel self-conscious and lose focus. Choose something comfortable and confidence-boosting that won’t detract from your impressive moves in the photos. Breathe and try to enjoy yourself. Some of the best final shots come from relaxed goofing off between planned shots.