I was recently invited to come take pictures of a local dance company here in Nanjing (thanks, Dare!) as they shot a music video to Walk The Moon’s ‘Shut Up And Dance With Me’. I’m an amateur photographer, and a very casual one at that, plus I had never done anything close to dance photography before! Needless to say, I learned a few things and feel inclined to share!
Lessons Learned & My Favorite Photos
Lesson 1 – Burst Mode Is Your Best Friend
I have an embarrassing admission… I still haven’t gotten out of auto mode on my DSLR, so I began shooting the dancers in auto mode. After taking a few photos, I had a look at my camera and realized the pictures were pretty weird looking. The dancer’s faces were in focus, but their hands and legs were blurry. This is when I learned that the Action Mode on my camera really does work for movement, and that the burst mode it automatically went into was the best thing ever.
Lesson 2 – Let The Dancers Direct
I’m personally not used to directing people on where they should stand or how they should pose, so this realization made me like dance photography a lot. Dancers will ham it up and direct themselves when given the opportunity. The 3 girls above wanted me to take photos of them in front of this big pretty building, and they totally directed the shots. Makes it easy – that’s for sure! I just had to make sure I was always ready on the right setting, finger hovering over the button.
Lesson 3 – Jumps & Twirls Make The Best Photos
I feel like the times I was trying to catch a good pose didn’t give me great results, but the times we staged a jump or I knew the group was about to twirl made for great pictures.
Lesson 4 – Learn The Choreography
The photo below was captured because I let burst mode do its thing, and I had watched the same choreography play out over and over, so I knew exactly when the big group twirl was. If I were to go back and capture these exact same dances again and again, I know the results would improve each time because of my familiarity with the choreography.
Lesson 5 – Dance Experience Helps The Editing Process
Burst mode results in a LOT of photos captured in a short amount of time, so I had to be picky about the ones that I would edit. As I was choosing the best pictures, I realized I was at a slight disadvantage since I know close to nothing about dance. Things like “is that how their hands are supposed to look for this pose?” went through my head as I attempted to pick the best moments.
Be sure to comment below if you have any tips or tricks for new photographers!!
Thanks for reading! Talk to you soon 🙂
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