10 Things to Do Before Your Pole/Aerials Photoshoot
We’ve all drooled over the stunning professional photos of our favourite pole artists and aerialists. We’ve gasped over the supreme elegance of Marion Crampe’s professional shots, been awed by the shoots posted by Evgeny Greshilov, and been utterly mesmerised by the beauty of Anastasia Skukhtorova in High Definition (or any definition really, let’s face it). The elites look so effortlessly sublime, and technically a photo is taken in, what? Around 1/200th of a second?? You can totally hold an awesome move for that long! How hard can that be? Photoshoots must be EASY, right?
…. Well, not quite!
Any level dancer can achieve a successful shoot, but there IS a great deal of work behind achieving a truly sensational shoot! As someone who has frequented both sides of the camera when it comes to pole shoots, I would like to present some simple advice on how to ensure you’re photoshoot-ready so the photos come out beautifully – and remain beautiful in your eyes even as you improve into the future!
Without further ado, here are 10 things to do before your pole/aerials photoshoot:
- RESEARCH POSES
Nothing can fill your stomach with dread quite like stepping up to your apparatus, hair done, makeup on point, outfit set to dazzle through the ages… and realising you have absolutely no idea what to do.
You would be shocked at how quickly the most complex organ in our body can magically dispose of dozens of your favourite tricks, positions and combos. It’s honestly just rude – thanks Brain but now is really not the time to be focused on how sweaty my hands suddenly are?!?!?!
To avoid this mind-blank-induced panic, spend some time researching positions before your shoot! Hit up Instagram, Pintrest, Google images, whatever you can find. Screenshot them, save them on your phone, print them out, have a folder on your computer. Somewhere that you can readily access them if you find yourself in need of inspiration!
- CHOOSE YOUR POSES & HAVE BACKUPS
Now that you have a stockpile of awesome pole/aerials positions at the ready, it is time to select the exact poses you want captured by your photographer. But don’t stop there! One thing I see far too often as a photographer is a dancer or aerialist who has done their preparation, but on the day is unable to execute one or more of their chosen positions.
This can be wretchedly frustrating, but we’ve all been there. One day your Russian Split is as strong and flat as the horizon and you could hold that baby until the cows come home from wherever it is cows supposedly go – and the next day your Russian Split resembles a Russian Right-Angle. Frustration Station, population: every single poler/aerialist ever.
Therefore, I cannot emphasise enough the importance of having BACKUP positions on standby! For every single move that you select as your first choice, have one or two backup moves in case it doesn’t happen to your satisfaction! Remember, these backup moves need to be DIFFERENT to the others you’ve selected; for example, if you’ve chosen three positions (Inverted V, Butterfly, Russian Split), you need to have minimum three OTHER positions on standby. You may not need them, but trust me; dozens of pole and aerial photoshoots have taught me that it is one hundred percent better to be safe than sorry!
- PRACTISE THE POSES WITH YOUR COSTUME/OUTFIT ON AND HAIR IN SAME/SIMILAR STYLE
Oh dear. This is possibly the most important step in preparation for a photoshoot, and yet is also one of the most frequently ignored!
There are very few things that boggle my mind more than the superhuman souls who can flip about and spin and twist and fly with their long hair floating freely behind them. Just. I don’t even know. I struggle not to shut my ponytail in the car door every time I get in, so the idea of being able to perform normally on pole, lyra, silks, trapeze (heck, ANYTHING) without having my hair tied back is a distant dream.
So for those of us who DO look better with our hair down for photos, to avoid accidentally ripping out a cup-grip handful of hair in your shouldermount, the key is decide what hairstyle you’re aiming for on the day, and then practise your moves with it! Find out which side of your head your hair needs to be on as you lower into a Janeiro for it to land on the right side! Decide if you want it all falling straight down if you’re upside down!
Then we see stunning images of Natalia Meshcheriakova on the pole in a billowing skirt? Oona Kivela climbing a pole in long tights and socks?? … Pardon??
Same deal my friends: practise your chosen moves (and your backup moves!) whilst wearing the costume/outfit you’re planning to wear in the shoot. There’s nothing more flustering than having a gorgeous bodysuit on and then discovering you actually really need the skin on your ribs exposed to hold a Ballerina. There are also few things more painful than discovering that whilst your booty shorts and crop top look excellent, you do appreciate having skin behind your knees, and therefore can’t do the leg hangs or transitions you were planning on silks!
- PRACTISE LANDING IN YOUR POSITION FACING A CERTAIN DIRECTION
This is a big issue for most of the people I have photographed. In still images, it’s very easy to capture a wildly unflattering position/crotch shot/patch of cellulite from simply taking the picture at the wrong angle.
With that in mind, it’s very beneficial to start practising how to land facing a particular direction, just in case you don’t have someone on the day who can jump in and spin you! This will save you having to perform the same move over and over again – making you sweaty and exhausted if it’s a difficult move – or receiving photos you’re unhappy with.
- PRACTISE HOLDING THE POSITION FOR 5 MISSISSIPPI’S
Hands down one of the biggest problems in a pole or aerials photoshoot is the misconception that since the photo is technically taken in around 1/200th of a second, you only need to be able to hold it for that long.
WRONG! WRONG WRONG WRONG. Oh so very wrong.
If you cannot hold a position for a MINIMUM of five Mississippi’s, you are not going to get a shot of it. Let me break it down for you:
1-Mississippi – you’ve landed in your move (let’s say a Jade Split)
2-Mississippi – uh oh, you’re not square to the camera so the angle is unflattering, enter helpful friend to spin you!
3-Mississppi – ok now you’re facing the right way, great! Uh oh, your friend/instructor/photographer spots that your back leg isn’t straight like you thought!
4-Mississippi – ok readjusting, re-squeezing everything, face relaxed
5-Mississippi – photographer snaps photo.
Make sense? This is a rough estimate, but to guarantee you get beautiful shots of you performing your moves correctly, the rule is to bank on holding them for at least 5 Mississippi’s!
- TAKE SOME SNAPS OF YOUR PRACTISES SO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WILL LOOK LIKE
There’s nothing worse than realising that whilst Alex Shchukin looks ripped as in a certain position, your resemblance of said position is more akin to a Sharpei puppy. Save yourself the trauma and give yourself an idea of what you want to achieve in your shoot – have a friend snap a pic on your phone or record yourself and take a screenshot for reference! This will also help you spot any improvements or adjustments you need to make that you may have been unaware of.
- PREPARE A BACKUP COSTUME/OUTFIT
The shoot must go on, even if your chosen outfit/costume can’t. Unfortunately, those leotards, onesies, lingerie and bodysuits we spot in random shops and think “woah that would look great in a pole photo,” are usually not built to withstand our craft. Sad face emoji.
So, even if you successfully practised all your moves in your outfit of choice beforehand, HAVE A BACKUP ON THE DAY! A strap can snap, a button can pop off, a crotch seam can split…
- CONSIDER YOUR BACKGROUND
Are you going to be outside? Indoors? Black background? White background? Industrial setting? Beach? All these things need to be considered before your shoot day so that you can choose the best possible costume and the moves that can be performed in it. If you’re on a white backdrop for example, you may not want to wear a white costume. If you’re in a red setting, you may not want to pink or orange if you think the colours could clash. Forwarned is forearmed!
- FIND OUT EXACTLY HOW MANY IMAGES YOU’RE GETTING AND HOW YOU’RE GETTING THEM
This is an important step in maintaining a good relationship with your photographer! There are few things more frustrating than clients who misread or forget what the conditions of a photoshoot were, and then harangue the photographer for taking longer than they expected or not giving them all the photos.
To avoid confusion, contact your photographer (or your instructor if you’re doing a shoot through your studio) to ascertain exactly what images you’re receiving for the price you’re paying, and how you are going to receive them.
Some of the options you may encounter could be receiving images via Dropbox, Google Drive, USB, CD, the photographer’s own website, or special online photo galleries (Pixieset.com is a good example). The images you receive will also vary; you could be entitled to all the images taken, a select few chosen by the photographer, a select few chosen by yourself, or as many as you like from those taken.
It is important to remember that copyright law states that photos are the property of the PHOTOGRAPHER! Therefore, unless you have previously agreed upon an arrangement where you receive all the images, you are not entitled to any images you haven’t paid for, even if they are of you. Keep this in mind, and make sure you clarify with your photographer BEFORE your shoot to makes sure everyone is on the same page and comfortable with the arrangement.
- FIND OUT HOW TO PAY & ROUGHLY HOW LONG IT WILL TAKE FOR THE IMAGES TO BE PROCESSED
Processing images takes time! Depending on the photographer’s style and the type of shoot, processing and editing a single image can take HOURS. This is why you are paying for a professional! High-profile photographers are unlikely to return images in under six to eight weeks, whereas amateur photographers may have a one week turnaround.
Therefore, to avoid any stress and impatience, it’s vital that you find out an approximation of what your expectations should be regarding processing time for the images.
When it comes to paying for your shoot, cash or bank transfers are common, and it’s important to find out your photographer’s requirements as soon as possible. Do they have a preferred payment method? Do they require a non-refundable deposit? Do they require full payment before shoot day or upon delivery of the images? Whatever method your photographer seeks, be sure to have it in writing via email or at least text/Facebook message so you can refer back to it if needed.
There you have it; ten simple steps to ensure you are one hundred percent prepared for your pole or aerials photoshoot. At the end of the day, it’s also always advisable to ask your photographer and your pole/aerials instructor or someone who has done photoshoots before if they have any recommendations!
Happy snapping folks 🙂