What to Wear for your Dance Photo Session

March 16, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

What to Wear for your Dance Photography Session

Jamie A. Austin Photography

  You are a week away from your session day and you want to look amazing for your dance pictures. Not just any dance pictures but fine art portraits that will capture you doing what you love.  If this is your first or second dance photo session with me you probably have a ton of questions on how to prepare.  It can seem very overwhelming but fear not.  I have some advice for you right here!

First, take a deep breath and relax.  Know that this is meant to be fun like a fashion shoot, a time to shine and a chance to feel like a rock star.  I try to make everyone feel confident and beautiful.  I have poses and ideas for dancers of all ages and skill levels.  

  So, what should you wear for your dance photo shoot?  That depends on a few things.  Are these for an audition or head shots?  If so, make sure you find out specific requirements from the institution.  Find out what they are looking for.  If these are for personal use, then think about what you would like conveyed in your images.  Are you hoping for formal ballerina, classic dancer, beautiful fine art, casual, funky and quirky, Fosse style, a fresh off the street look, or maybe a mix of images?  Determine what will best represent your dance style and your personality.  There really is no right or wrong. 

   That said, a basic black leotard is always a good place to start.  Most often, I feel simple is most sophisticated and beautiful.  The outfit should help show off the dancer and not distract from them.  A black leotard with lace or fun details is one way to add subtle interest to your pictures.  It is also very easy to accessorize a black outfit.  We can switch out different tutus, skirts and leg warmers.  We can add necklaces, hats, head bands, flowers and shoes quickly with out losing much session time.  This is particularly important when doing a mini session.


Pretty flowing dresses are a good option too.  If you have a lyrical, modern or more contemporary costume bring it.  These outfits are perfect for showing movement or creating a softer look.  Or maybe you just want color! 

Some clients come with ideas of their own!  I fully encourage this.  This can lead to some very unique and fun images.

The other question I get a lot is how to do hair and make up.  Just like outfits, the answer to this is dependent on your personal style and the effect you are looking for.  Many of my clients wear their hair down.  It creates a more free, less formal look.  It is generally very flattering as is having the sides pulled up or back.  Buns and updos look very professional, clean and like a classic dancer.   Pony tails are sort of a mix of formal and casual.  I might suggest, when possible, to start with hair down and then pull it up as we move through your session.  This can give some nice diversity to your collection of images. 

Make up... you got it. Personal preference.  You don't need stage makeup unless that's what you like.  Red lips can really pop.  For younger dancers, some mascara and a touch of blush is all you may need.  If you don't like the idea of make up; you can skip it all together.  Try to compliment your age, style and the look of your outfit.  Of course, if you have a conceptual idea that includes costume or heavy makeup...go for it!  I will try to help convey your idea as best as possible.



Final Tips:

1. Check your nails.  Chipped nail polish is noticeable and detracts from an otherwise beautiful capture.  The same goes with neon and crazy vibrant colors.  Keep them natural, low key or outfit matching.

2. Jewelry should also compliment your style and outfit.

3. Remove hairbands from your wrist

4. Remove stickers and temporary tattoos

5. Under garments should not be visible or sticking out of leotards

6. Wear a leotard that fits properly.  It should not be baggy or droopy.

7. Warm up and stretch before your session to maximize your ability to hit your pose and not get injured!

8. Practice jumps and difficult poses ahead of time.

9. Practice holding a pretty face, smile or aloof expression while doing your pose.  A grimace or tongue sticking out quickly ruins a perfect leap.

10. Show up prepared but be flexible.  Have ideas but be willing to let go of them if it's just not working.  Sometimes young dancers are shy and won't smile.  That's okay.  Those can be some of the prettiest pictures.  Some dancers can't help but smile.  They just might not be able to do the aloof serious look and that's okay too.  Frustration is a major image destroyer.


Just remember, your dance photo session is supposed to be fun.  It should showcase your skills and leave you feeling confident and beautiful.  Wear something that highlights who you are and the type of dance you love.  Feel free to try something outside your comfort zone.  Try different expressions and be open to ideas.  You may just be surprised what you are capable of. 

I hope you find this post helpful.  Check out my Dance Portfolio at https://www.jaaphotography.com/p149372257  to see more samples of my dance portraits. 

Feel free to share this article with friends and keep on dancing!


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