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Dance Audition Photos: Tips for Success

Preparing for Dance Audition Photos? Here Are 7 Tips

Audition season can be nerve-wracking, no matter how experienced a dancer you are. But great dance audition photos and headshots give you a chance to show off your personality—and make the right first impression.

As they say, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” So, whether you’re gearing up for a ballet audition headshot and audition photos, or a contemporary portfolio photoshoot, check out these tips to get the most from your photoshoot. Then, come in confident, relaxed, and prepared, so you can take the photos you need to get noticed during your next audition.

At Andrew Bowen Studios, you’ll find that I’m both committed to collaboration and passionate about your artistry. Over the years, I’ve worked with many dancers—from aspiring artists to seasoned professionals. Knowing how to rock your photoshoot is just part of the recipe. So, whether you need to book a photoshoot for your first ballet summer intensive audition photos, or it’s just time to update your headshots, here are seven tips that will help you make the most of the experience.

Tip #1: Research Audition Requirements

Nothing will bring you down to earth faster than not having the right images for your audition package.  Research where you want to apply, what they want in terms of positions, the vibe of the company, and how they present themselves. Let’s make it easier for them to see you as part of the company.

Tip #2: Get Inspired

Now that you know what you need, let’s tell your story. First, think about a few things to help define the goals for your audition photoshoot. Look at other headshots for inspiration and think through poses and aesthetics that best reflect your passion and skills. Then, reflect on what you want your headshot to say about your career as a dancer. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you prepare for your photoshoot.

  • What words or phrases best describe my journey as a dancer?
  • What are my strengths?
  • What’s my favorite quote about dancing?
  • Who inspires me and why?
  • What excites me?

Jot your answers to these questions and email them to me before your photoshoot. Or you can create a mood board so that I can get a sense of your goals, dreams, and personality.

Tip #3: Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Book Your Photoshoot

When an audition is on the line, planning ahead pays off! It’s a good idea to book your photoshoot well in advance, so there is ample to edit your favorite photos. I strive for a one-week delivery, but that can be up to two weeks during a busy period.

I offer a limited number of photoshoots each week to ensure each dancer gets the time, attention, and experience they deserve. So, be sure to reach out as soon as you’re ready to book.

Tip #4: Keep Your Hair and Makeup Simple

For ballet audition photos, it’s best to let your personality and natural beauty shine. It’s easy to add more makeup if needed, but removing it is challenging. So, as a rule of thumb, less is best. 

P.S. Don’t freak out if you have a mild acne breakout the morning of your audition photoshoot. That’s generally easy to fix.

Tip #5: Dress for Success

Let your dancing and skills speak for themselves. I recommend keeping things simple. In general, it’s better to highlight your artistry rather than your outfit. For classical ballet, this means a black leotard and tights for the ladies and black dance tights with a white shirt for the gentlemen.  For contemporary dancers, we want clothes that fit you well so they can see how your body is moving. Commercial dancers will want your Laduca’s and fishnets, and then something that speaks to your creativity and personality. Opt for solid colors and clean backgrounds in order to keep the focus on you.

And always pack extra wardrobe options, just in case. We can’t photograph you in something that you don’t bring. Have an idea? Let’s chat before your photoshoot.

Tip #6: Collaboration Is Queen (or King)

Open communication is essential to a successful audition photoshoot. You know what you are capable of, and my job is to get your photos to tell that story. I will challenge you to get your best. And once you are thrilled with how you look, we will move on to more options. Transforming your three-dimensional form into the best two-dimensional photo is its own art. I will work with you to find your angles, craft the best lighting, and coach you through the whole process.

Tip #7: Don’t Forget Your Headshot

For the right headshot, you want to think simple too. The focus should be a clean photo that best represents your personality. Start with a hair-down photo to avoid crimped hair before trying a bun. I recommend opting for light, natural makeup. The AD or program director wants to know what you look like and gain a sense of your personality and engagement. We will work your angles and expression to find the look that will grab their attention and make them want to know more about your artistry.

Are You Ready to Create Your Audition Photos with Andrew Bowen Studios?

If you’re ready to put your best face and foot forward for your next audition or application, let’s chat! Follow these tips, and we’ll work together to create audition headshots that will help you stand out.

Why Make Prints

I humbly suggest that print is not dead.

I speak from experience both as a producer of images (dance photographer, and one-time portrait photographer, Bar/Bat Mitzvah Photographer and Sports Photographer) and consumer of images (in all of these same areas). I have tens of thousands of images of my family’s life. I even have those images winnowed down to about 1000 images I really love that sample our lives over the years; but in the end, no one generally looks at them. They even live on an online gallery so family far and wide can look whenever they want to. Not much (any) traffic there. What does get regular traffic are the real physical albums and books. Either digital or homemade scrapbook pages, press printed books and albums from milestone events, they are all perused regularly. Wall-hangings of single images or collages are regularly interacted with and elicit memories. The print enables the viewer to view them on their own terms and at their own pace. Print is constant; the image is exactly how it is meant to be seen. The print simply is. It is always there, waiting for us, waiting to remind us.

We hired someone to be the photographer at our daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. We got a disk of nicely processed images. They sat of months and months, and then over a year. No one looked at them past the initial oohs and aahs. Then, as the two-year anniversary neared, I turned our favorites into a beautiful press-printed book. It lives on a coffee table. It is picked up; it is interacted with; it lives. I still have all the images from that wonderful weekend years ago, but the only ones we look at are the prints.

We hired someone to do a family portrait. Once again, I really wanted those digital files. Once again, a total of two have been used for avatars on Facebook. The two images we loved most are on the walls in our home. The 4×6 prints sit in a box, and the digital files, well, we know where they are.

Don’t we all (or at least all of us over the age of 30) have shoeboxes of 4×6 prints from Ritz or Costco that we never look at? I did, and I still do. I had some of the good ones scanned to archive them, but they just changed shoeboxes from a physical one in my closet to a digital one in the cloud. They exist in that same stasis they did when they were in the shoebox. When I talk about prints, I’m talking about something that doesn’t go in a shoebox, digital or physical. The “My Pictures” folder quickly becomes as unwieldy as the dozen photo boxes in the closet.

In the end, we can archive our happy memories or we can live amongst them. Choose life!