Being a dance graduate in the class of 2020 has had some unique challenges. Thanks to COVID-19 having had a huge impact on the dance industry, being a new graduate and trying to get hired as a professional dancer is more difficult than ever. Dance jobs- and ballet jobs in particular- have always been highly competitive. However the pandemic and lockdowns have brought entirely new challenges, such as online dance auditions (remember this time last year, when we’d never heard the phrase “audition via Zoom”?!). That’s why certain parts of our online application, such as the audition photographs, have now become even more important, because we often can’t be seen in-person.
However, even getting dance audition pictures taken is a big challenge during this time! I’m lucky to have my own photographer in-house, and whilst these photos in our “home photo studio” are far from perfect, we did the best we could in our tiny home! If you can’t wait until lockdown is over to get hold of a dance photographer, don’t worry because you can still get some decent dance audition photographs yourself at home if you have a willing quarantine buddy and a phone with a decent camera.
The photos I’m sharing are ballet only, because that’s what I needed on this occasion, but you can mix it up depending on what you’re applying for- and if you don’t know what kind of dance job you’re applying for yet, you can do a bit of everything! Make sure you research what photos are usually asked for by the types of jobs or opportunities you want to apply for, and take photos in all of the different specialised shoes you might need to wear, e.g. pointe shoes, heels, etc.
DANCE AND BALLET AUDITION PHOTOS FROM HOME: TIPS
- You don’t need a professional camera. If you have one and you know how to use it, that’s great, but the purpose of audition pictures is to show your technique and physique- it’s not a photography competition! Most phones now have a camera that’s plenty good enough. Just don’t take them on an old compact camera or an old phone camera, because the final image at least needs to be crisp and clear.
- Use natural light. Natural light is always the best and most flattering, and it’s cheaper and easier than trying to use a complicated lighting set-up. Take your photos during the day when you know you have plenty of good daylight, and make sure you turn the other lights in the area off, because they will make your photos look yellow.
- Choose the clearest and most spacious area you have. As you can see, we only had an absolutely tiny amount of space to work with, and I’m quite tall, especially en pointe, so it wasn’t possible to get certain shots without bits of furniture or the kitchen in the background. Obviously if you can avoid this, then that’s better! Make sure you’re in front of a plain wall if you can manage it. Ideally it would be a lighter colour rather than a dark or bright one. Take down any pictures or art, if there are shelves, clear them off, and clear away any cables etc. on the floor.
- Unless the job specification says otherwise, take your photos in plain clothes that show your body and make you feel good. Colours are okay, but avoid patterns, lace, logos, etc.- I took all of the photos below wearing black and wearing a colour, just in case a black leotard was specified.
- Wear make up, but not too much, and style your hair neatly.
- Take lots of shots so that you have plenty to choose from.
- Some things that can help you during the shooting process are: making sure you’re really warm and stretched before you start; having a mirror to check your technique; and putting on some music to help you to move freely and feel relaxed.
- It’s good to edit the photos after a little if you know how. I like to edit phone pictures with the Adobe Lightroom mobile app, but if you don’t know how to use that then VSCO is a great easy-to-use alternative. Don’t over-edit though: make sure they’re clear and bright, but don’t use any arty filters, don’t use black and white (if you really want some in black and white, make sure you have the colour version too)*, and absolutely don’t photoshop any parts of yourself! Clearing up blemishes, stray hairs and holes in your tights is fine- making yourself look slimmer or your feet more arched is a huge no-no!
*If you’re taking headshots, which you should do as well if you don’t already have some recent ones handy, sometimes it’s a good idea to have one of your headshots in black and white, but absolutely make sure you keep a colour version, and only ever send a black and white image if it’s specifically asked for!
I hope these tips helped! These photos below are by Jake Owens, my partner and wonderful professional photographer- you can check out his website HERE and his Instagram is @jakeowensphoto . If you want to hire his services once lockdown is over that would be great, as currently neither of us can really work and we could use some money to eat & feed the dog!
ALSO if you want to really level up your iPhone photography skills, Jake has written a really amazing guide to taking photos on your phone, and Dare to Dance readers can get 20% off with code DARETODANCE – click HERE for yours! You can get better photos AND feel good that you’re supporting freelance artists during a really tough time.
Make sure you tag me on social media if you do your own at-home audition photoshoots!
Good luck out there,