Choosing a Photographer
You may have a certain image in your head of the type of photos you want to create and need to find a photographer who fits that vision. Or you may already have a photographer in mind whose style you really love. If you already know exactly who you want to work with, that is great! If not, you will have some research to do. Here are some steps and helpful information to keep in mind when seeking out a photographer to work with:
Get recommendations: To begin your research you can always go straight to google and see what photographer are in your area and what style of work they do. You can also check websites of local dancers to see who they have worked with. This can be a great option because you can ask about their experiences with different photographers.
Whether you are searching for local photographers or seeking suggestions from other dancers for photographers they know who are familiar with shooting bellydancers, it is always a good idea to hear recommendations from other clients as well. You may also luck out and have a photographer on tour in your area who specializes in working with dancers. For instance, in recent years, Pixie Vision Photography (link) and Michael Baxter (link) have both been in the Boson area.
Dance photography is unique - you don't want to hire a landscape or architectural photographer for a dance shoot. Similarly, wedding photographers and corporate headshot photographers have a different skill set. Talk to dancers and performers who have shots you enjoy, and look to photographers who specialize in people - from street photographers to family photographers - people who have a knack for capturing the right moment. -Paul Jones, RT2 Photography
When choosing a photographer I encourage you to do your research. Take a look at a variety of photographers' work and see if you can find a style that you like. As in any art form, photographers come in all flavors. Some photographers create mystical fantasy tableaus, but others are more used to shooting the occasional weekend wedding. Try to choose a photographer who has worked with dancers before and is used to creating photo compositions that accentuate the movements of a dancer. -Hayam, Professional Bellydancer
Price point and costs:
You can always first check a photographer's website to search for a listing of fees for different packages and what is included in the price. If there is no information about pricing on their website, you can inquire by emailing them and asking.
Different packages from different photographers usually include a limited number of digital images. Often, you will receive about 10 images, but you can typically order additional photos for an extra fee. In some cases, a package may include a full gallery, although that is rarer or potentially available for a surcharge.
When calculating costs you should also think about the reason you want the images. If you are a hobbyist getting photos for fun and are primarily interested in new photos to share with friends on social media, you may be fine with lower resolution digital copies. However, if you are a professional dancer getting photos for promotional purposes, you will likely need to factor in the cost of purchasing high resolution images.
Be very wary about trades. Twice over the years I have worked out trades with local professional photographers and I never received the images, even though I had completed my part of the agreement each time. If you are entering into a trade or barter situation with a photographer be sure to use a contract.
Communicating with a Photographer:
You have chosen a photographer and researched their work. You have found someone whose work you love and whose style really suits you.
Now it is time to check in about booking them for your photoshoot.
With a good photographer, this process should feel like a mutual collaboration. Let them know your overall vision for the photos (you can use example photos from their work or from other dancer's shoots to communicate this). Ask if there will be time for a costume change. If you are doing a studio shoot and want to use a veil or isis wings ask for the room size and ceiling height. Also ask whether tossing fabric will fit in front of the backdrop. If at any point in this process you feel uncomfortable with the chosen photographer or you don't feel like your needs are being met, you can politely bow out of the shoot and look for another photographer.
It is also important to remember that working with a photographer is a very intimate experience. If you are not comfortable with your photographer, you will not take good photos. Read customer reviews. Talk to dancers who have worked with your photographer of interest. Make sure that your photographer has a personality that you jive with artistically. If your photographer makes you feel nervous or uneasy, you will likely be paying an awful lot for a bunch of awkwardly tense photos. And a word of caution...don't contact photographers who are advertising on public forums looking for "female models" hoping for some cheap images. I assure you, that won't be comfortable! -Hayam
Hold on a second -- whose photos are they? It is important to remember that photographs are considered the intellectual property of the photographer, not the model. Check with your photographer to see if there are any restrictions on their use, or if they will offer your images for sale elsewhere. Think of how many products you have seen over the years with famous dancers on them. Those dancers are not necessarily endorsing every product with their image on them. The images may have been sold to manufacturers who want to use them on their products. Talk with your photographer if you are uncomfortable with your images being sold to others, and be sure to check in beforehand to be sure you understand what their policy is about image use.
Be sure to making it clear to the photographer how much exposure you are comfortable with. While the photographer does technically own the photograph, a good one will respect how much you are prepared to share. I've found especially in the dance world, many dancers are sensitive about their image, and where their image ends up. I always try to ask if posting to Facebook (my chosen social media) is acceptable. Some photographers use Google+, Twitter or Instagram instead, and it's worth knowing. This may also be covered in a contract. -Paul Jones, RT2 Photography
Credit where credit is due!
Please always give credit whenever possible when using your gorgeous new photos. In some cases, like on business cards or fliers, there may not be a spot to give a photo credit. However, on your website or social media accounts there is almost always a way to add a caption giving credit to the photographer. They worked hard to take such great photos of you, you should tell the world!
I hope this post has given you helpful information on choosing and communicating with photographers for your next shoot. If so please feel free to share your photos and brag about the awesome photographer you worked with! Upcoming posts will cover choosing a location, developing your look, what to do the day of the shoot, and will give you a behind the scenes look at Felicia and I's recent shoot with RT2 Photography.
My adventures in dance, music, costume design...