Tips for Ballet Photoshoots!

A few of you requested this a while back, and I’m really sorry I haven’t been able to get to it any sooner – I’ve been really swamped with requests!  So, without further ado, my tips for getting that perfect ballet photo for your Instagram page.  Let’s go!

Photography basics

As a Yearbook class alum, I have a few basic photography tips to teach you.  Number one, always make sure your lighting is good.  Pick a spot for shooting with a purpose.  Do you want a silhouette?  a basic photo?  a shadow centerpiece?  etc.?

Try and test out a few different angles with lighting until you find the perfect one.  You can also choose a pose based on the lighting.  Where is the sun coming from?  How can you illuminate a shadow or a body part using the natural light?  It can make for some really pretty and artistic photos.

Use the rule of thirds.  Here is quick image to help you out.


Simply put, you put the focus of the image on one of the circled locations on the grid in the first image.  This draws the focus to this area naturally.  A focus can be a foot, a face, or even a hyperextended knee.  Whatever you want to draw the focus to.  Play to your strengths.

This rule naturally makes a photo look better.

Using a ballet photographer

If you are getting professional ballet photos taken, I highly, highly recommend getting a specialized ballet photographer to take your photos.  This kind of photographer can tell you if your supporting knee needs to straighten, your abs need to engage, or if your back foot is sickled.  A regular photographer wouldn’t be able to tell these things.

If you aren’t getting professional photos, your friends can tell you these things if you are both dancers.  When I take ballet photos for my friends, I am constantly giving them technique advice and letting them practice the steps before I take shots.  You want good technique, not just a good photo.

Here are a few things I would correct about the photo below:


  • Shape your back foot.
  • Get your hips over your supporting foot.
  • Lower front arm and no droopy fingers.
  • Keep your back up.
  • Get your back leg behind you.
  • Second arm more to the side of you.
  • Look over your front fingers.
  • Straight supporting leg.
  • Turn out your supporting leg.

See how much you can correct about a photo?

If we were correcting all these things during the shoot, the photo would be a lot better.

Deciding on a pose

One of my biggest tips for ballet photoshoots is to select a pose that fits your technique.  If you have terrible turnout (like me!!!), then don’t choose anything too difficult to maintain.  Whereas, if you have wonderful feet, show them off with a great pose, and the same with extension.  Here’s a little resource to help you out.  I list the strength/weakness and then below I have a list of poses to try out.

Great extensions:

  • Extension alisicon w/ arms in high fifth, looking away from leg
  • Extension croisé devant in plié, arms in high fifth, looking away from leg
  • Attitude croisé devant en pointe, both arms allongé to left of leg, looking towards arms

Nice arabesque:

  • Third arabesque, high front arm, looking up
  • Facing back corner, attitude effacé derrière, same arm as leg in high fifth

Amazing feet:

  • Tendu alisicon w/ plié pushing over box, same arm as leg high fifth, opposite low fifth (en bas), looking away from leg
  • Fourth position en pointe, arms first arabesque, top arm high
  • Plié in second position en pointe

Great turnout:

  • Profile view, retiré front with cambré back, arm high fifth
  • Facing back corner, second arabesque en pointe
  • Profile view, grand plié second, low swan arms (crossed in front)

Choosing an outfit

Depending on the kind of poses you will be doing, you can choose an outfit accordingly.  If you are going more classical, definitely wear pointe shoes, a leotard, and probably a skirt of some kind.  Character or long skirts can make for really pretty photos.

For some ballet shoots I prefer to go more retro, which is usually leggings over a letoard that includes mesh, or wearing black shorts over a leotard.

If you are doing a fall or winter shoot, I love to wear a shorter skirt with a very light, loose, sheer sweater over top.  It can look very, very elegant.

If I will be doing more contemporary moves on a shoot, I will go for a retro, usually black leotard with black leggings over top.  Sometimes I go barefoot, or I will wear a pair of pancaked pointe shoes.

Try to match your outfit to the weather outside.

Thanks for reading today’s blog post!  I’ll see you on Wednesday with another one.

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