Headshot Photography

Headshots for Dancers: 12 Tips for a Great Dance Headshot

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Written By Nate Torres

Dancing is a form of expression. And a good headshot can capture that expression.

In this guide, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about dance headshots.

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

What is a Dancer Headshot?

A dancer headshot is a picture of a dancer that they use to represent themselves, either for an audition or a fun, online social media page.

This will be the first thing people see when coming across your profile and can communicate a lot about you as well as make others take interest in what you have to offer.

dancer headshot clothing
dancer headshot example

Why Should a Dancer Get a Headshot?

A headshot photograph is an essential tool for any dancer, as it allows them to present a professional image and showcase their unique personality and style. Dancers often use headshots for auditions, casting calls, and promotional materials, such as websites, social media, and press kits.

Headshots are used for dancers to use in their promotional materials, whether that be on an audition website or at an audition, or even just to send to friends.

Having a headshot is also key for companies who may need pictures of dancers they represent available at all times.

A high-quality headshot can help a dancer stand out in a competitive field and make a memorable first impression on potential employers, choreographers, or collaborators. Additionally, a well-crafted headshot can capture the essence of a dancer’s artistry and convey their passion and dedication to their craft.

What Makes a Good Dancer Headshot?

1. Lighting

The lighting should be bright without any shadows. It should catch the attention of anyone who glances at it, and communicate that you are approachable, confident, and ready for action!

When taking your picture try to position yourself near a window or outside where you will get natural ambient light.

If there is no window near you, try to take the picture in front of a white wall. This will ensure that your photo is bright and has no shadows on your face or body.

2. Background

The background of the image should be simple, clean, and uncluttered so the focus remains on you!

Pick an area without distractions such as trees blowing or big buildings behind you.

The only thing the picture should communicate is your confidence and self-assurance!

dancer headshot background
Simple White Background

3. Eyes

4. Looks Professional

The photo should look very professional and polished because it is a representation of yourself.

Be sure all your hair is out of your face and that there’s nothing in your teeth or on your clothes.

Make the image simple and clean keeping your makeup natural and your outfit nice but comfortable.

Be sure to take multiple headshots at your photo shoot so you have a variety of looks. Try different backgrounds, outfits, and facial expressions to see what works best for you!

What is the Purpose of a Dancer Headshot?

A dancer headshot is used to show anyone who sees it that you are ready to work hard on stage or in the studio!

It can be used to show companies your look, style, and personality so they can better place you in the right part.

This photo will follow you through your life as a dancer- it is your very first impression!

How Can I Get a Great Dancer Headshot?

1. Schedule an Appointment

Call ahead of time to schedule an appointment with the photographer because this shows that you are serious and professional.

As a headshot photographer, here are some tips to schedule an appointment with one:

  1. Research headshot photographers in your area and look at their portfolio and reviews to ensure they have the skills and experience you’re looking for.
  2. Contact the photographer directly to inquire about their availability and rates. Be clear about the type of headshot you need and what you plan to use it for.
  3. Schedule your appointment well in advance to ensure you get a slot that works with your schedule and the photographer’s availability.
  4. Consider the time of day for your appointment, as natural lighting is often the best for headshots. Early morning or late afternoon is usually a good time to schedule a shoot.
  5. Be prepared to provide a deposit or pay in full to secure your appointment. Some photographers may require a non-refundable deposit to hold the date and time.
  6. Make sure you understand the photographer’s cancellation policy in case you need to reschedule or cancel your appointment.
  7. Communicate any special requests or concerns you may have ahead of time to ensure a successful shoot.

2. Headshot Photographer Who Specializes in Dance Headshots

Be sure to get a headshot from a photographer who specializes in dance- not just someone who does family portraits or weddings!

This is important for headshots because the lighting, backdrop, and way the picture is taken will depend on this factor.

A dancer headshot needs to be polished and composed differently than a headshot for a school play.

Hire a photographer who has done other dancers’ headshots so you can see their work and be sure they understand how important this picture is!

Ask to see the kind of backgrounds, lighting, poses, etc. that they use to communicate confidence and professionalism in their pictures.

3. Take a Photo in the Studio if Possible

Take headshots at the studio where you are currently dancing because this will ensure that you have a consistent background and lighting throughout all of your shots!

This will definitely come up in future auditions or studio visits!

dancer headshot in studio
In Studio

4. Posing

Make sure the photographer takes a variety of poses and expressions so you have a good selection to choose from.

Many dancers take three different looks: one for soloists, one for the corps de ballet, and one for yourself!

Some good go-to poses for dancers (also depending on your dance style) include the following:

  • On relevé: Standing on the balls of your feet with legs straight and arms in a pose can be a good way to showcase your dance form.
  • In motion: Capturing a dancer in motion can help convey their fluidity and grace. Consider jumping, leaping, or even a simple turn in motion.
  • Arms extended: Extending the arms in a pose can create beautiful lines and angles, highlighting the dancer’s flexibility and technique.
  • Lying down: Lying down can create a relaxed, natural pose that can be both flattering and unique.
  • Sitting: A seated pose can be an effective way to highlight the dancer’s upper body and facial expressions.
  • Head tilt: A subtle head tilt can add a sense of movement and life to the photo.

5. Makeup

You don’t need to wear your hair in hot rollers or bring your full makeup kit- just make sure you look like yourself!

Here are some good tips when doing your makeup as a dancer:

  • Keep it simple: For headshots, less is often more. Aim for a natural and clean look that enhances your features without overpowering them.
  • Highlight your eyes: As the eyes are often the focus of a headshot, make sure to use eyeshadow, mascara, and eyeliner to enhance and define them.
  • Use a matte finish: Avoid using products with a shiny or glittery finish, as they can reflect light and create unwanted shine in the photo.
  • Bring touch-up items: Be sure to bring items such as translucent powder, blotting papers, and lip balm for touch-ups during the shoot.
  • Test your makeup ahead of time: Do a test run of your makeup a few days before the shoot to make sure you’re happy with the look and to avoid any last-minute surprises.

6. Feel Comfortable

Wear clothes that are comfortable yet stylish!

Remember to smile with your eyes because this is what makes you look happy, confident, and beautiful! This will show everyone who sees your headshot that you are ready to dance!

Pick the picture that best shows off your personality and makes you look like yourself- that is the headshot you should choose!

What Should I Wear to My Headshot Shoot?

1. Simple, Flattering, Comfortable

If you are auditioning for a company, wear something simple, flattering, and comfortable.

This means loose clothing that does not restrict or bind any movements. You can also wear a leotard and tights, but be sure to wear sweatpants over them so you can change them easily.

dancer headshot

2. Depends on the Use

For your solo headshot, bring two outfits- one is the dress you are planning to wear for your ballet class that day!

Try not to go outside of your comfort zone too much with this picture because it is important to show your current style and technique.

If you are auditioning for a musical theater school, wear what you would normally wear at their audition times.

If you are taking a musical theater headshot, wear what would be appropriate for the type of show you are auditioning for.

For example, if you are auditioning for “In the Heights” then wear something that is either from that time or from today! This means don’t wear a modern dress with a big bow in your hair, or a very formal gown.

Where to Find a Dancer Headshot Photographer?

1. Search Engine

In your favorite search engine, search “Dancer Headshot Photographer” and check out the different results- most of these photographers will do a free consultation, so take advantage of this!

2. Ask for Recommendations

Ask your dance teachers for recommendations on photographers in your area!

This is always a good place to start because they will specifically know what kind of shots you need and who does headshots with the agency you’re trying to be with.

Search through submissions on your specific dance website and see if they have a list of preferred photographers!

This is especially helpful because it means that they already know and trust their work and deadlines, so you don’t need to worry about anything going wrong!

3. Social Media

Search through models’ portfolios on Instagram to find dancers who are currently working with your headshot photographer because this means that they are professional and will do a good job at representing you and your dance style!

4. Agencies

Search through agencies to find photographers who work with dancers.

This is a great way to get high-quality photos and you might even be able to negotiate a lower price since they already know the agency and your dance background.

Frequently Asked Questions

How big should a dancer headshot be?

For printed headshots, a standard size is 8×10 inches, although other sizes such as 5×7 inches or 8.5×11 inches can also be used. It’s important to make sure the image resolution is high enough for the intended print size, typically at least 300 DPI (dots per inch).

What makes a good headshot for dancers?

A good headshot for dancers should showcase their personality and style, while also highlighting their unique features and skills. It should be well-lit and composed, with a focus on the dancer’s face and body posture. Additionally, the headshot should be taken by a professional photographer who understands how to capture the essence of a dancer.

Do dancers need headshots?

Yes, dancers need headshots, just like actors and other performers. Headshots are an important tool for dancers to present themselves to potential employers or collaborators, and they can help them secure auditions, jobs, or performance opportunities.

Final Remarks

We hope you enjoyed this guide on headshots for dancers.

This guide is also a part of our Headshot Photography Hub, so be sure to check that out for further headshot photography tips and insights.