How To Get The Best From Your Pole Photoshoot
Have you been thinking about treating yourself to a professional pole photoshoot to show off your skills in style?
Whether you've never had a pole photoshoot before or you'd just like some tips for next time, this article is for you!
If you've never thought about having a pole photoshoot, I would highly recommend booking one.
You don't need to be able to do anything fancy. More often than not the simplest of poses can look the most elegant!
It's an amazing experience but I know pole photoshoots can be expensive and daunting.
That's why I've written this guide to help you get the very best out of your photoshoot. Even if you've never had one before! 🙂
It's normal to be nervous for your first shoot. I was, but the second one went much more smoothly once I knew what to expect.
You'll be far more relaxed when you head to your photoshoot knowing you have everything you need to prepare covered!
What You Will Learn
- How to prepare for your pole photoshoot
- What to pack on the day
- How to get the most out of your time slot
- Helpful tips from the experts themselves!
- How to preserve your energy on the day
How To Choose The Right Photographer For You
Stuck for choice and not sure which photographer is for you?
Once you've decided it's time to book a photoshoot, the first step is to figure out who is right for the job!
There are tonnes of photographers out there. Ideally you'll want someone who specialises in pole photography for the best results.
When choosing a photographer for your pole photoshoot, have a look around at other people's pictures and get a feel for what you like.
Each pole photographer will have their own style. You should be wary of picking a photographer who is not used to capturing pole dancers.
Just because someone does great wedding photos or landscapes, that doesn't mean they will know how to capture the best angles for your pole poses and which lighting works well with different moves.
To get stunning pictures from your first photoshoot, it's a good idea to find an expert in pole photography. Someone who will know exactly how to help you achieve the best shots possible.
On the day of the photoshoot, listen to your photographer. Some of the best pictures are captured when they have told you to change the tiniest of details.
They might ask you to look in a different direction or move an arm, hand or leg.
It's a team effort, so trust your photographers creativity.
Know What You're Working With
Once you've booked your pole photoshoot, get in touch with your photographer or the studio owner organising the shoot.
There are a few details that you'll want to find out before you pick something to wear or start planning which poses you'd like to capture.
Sometimes photoshoots are done using a stage pole. If you're traveling out of your studio for your photoshoot, find out what sort of pole you'll be using. Is the width different?
Is it a ceiling mounted pole or a stage pole? Once you know what you're working with you can try to find one to have a practise if you've never used one.
Stage poles are completely safe, but if you haven't been on one before sometimes the sway of the pole can be a little unnerving.
In my first photoshoot with a wedding photographer, I used a 50mm stage pole. I wasn't used to stage poles, and I was used to a thinner pole too!
That ended up with me not quite getting my usual grip when I attempted my titanic. But I still managed to style it out 🙂
Another thing if you're using a stage, is that you may want to keep your moves aerial depending on how you want your pictures to look.
Usually photographers will not be able to edit out the stage if you do poses from the floor or base of the stage.
Finally, you'll want to ask your photographer what colour background you'll be working with. That way you can pick your outfit colours to stand out. If in doubt I find sparkly always works well!
Which leads me to...
Picking An Outfit For Your Pole Photoshoot
Are you spoilt for choice on what to wear, or just stuck for ideas?
Sometimes the simplest of outfits will work well for a photoshoot. Anything bold or colours that contrast with the background colour at your shoot.
It's also nice to go all out and pick something sparkly, shiny or lacy for your photoshoot. Colour co-ordinate your costume, makeup and shoes to really give your pictures the wow factor.
You can either go for specific pole wear or there are a tonne of cheap pretty outfits out there too!
Here's a body suite I bought from there for my last shoot -
Some things would be totally inappropriate for pole class due to things 'falling out'. Don't forget, you won't have the same problem in a photoshoot when you're just holding your pose for a picture.
Do be mindful of the types of poses you will be doing though. My first photoshoot was a nightmare for my splits moves because my bottoms didn't have great crotch coverage!
If you do plan to wear heels for your photoshoot, make sure you have practised all of your poses in heels and in full costume too.
You're probably going to feel different in fancy costumes and outfits than you would in your workout wear.
Some points of contact where you would usually have skin for grip may be covered, so make sure you're still comfortable in your chosen positions in your new outfit.
You'll usually have time for one costume change in your time slot, depending on how long your time slot is.
Be aware of complicated costumes and how long it takes you to get into them. It may be best to start out in the one that is hardest to get into. That way a quicker costume change in the middle will save time.
Think about the poses you have chosen when choosing your outfit. You don't want something that's very detailed at the front if your pictures are all going to be side angles!
Pick Your Poses & Make A List
Want to know the best and most important way to save time on the day?
Make a list.
This is probably one of the most important things for the day. When you arrive for your photoshoot you will have a limited time slot.
If you're nervous you'll probably forget what moves you wanted to do, and you don't want to spend too long before shots pondering what to do next.
Brainstorm your favourite tricks and poses and make a shortlist of around 6 - 8 moves.
You'll probably have 5 or 6 pictures included in the price of your shoot depending on the package offered by your photographer.
That said, it's a good idea to have back up ideas. Just in case you smash your moves out super quick or any of them don't quite go to plan.
If you do manage to fit them all in, you'll usually have the option to pay extra per photo if you decide you want more than you have included in your package.
When choosing your poses, play to your strengths. Choose things you can hold for a long time that are second nature.
If you have a substandard picture of your hardest pole trick, you're just going to want to do it again in the future anyway. So you might as well save it for the future if it's difficult to hold.
Remember that your photographer may want to move around to try it from different angles. They might even change the lighting for your pose and then ask you to do it again. So doing something you're comfortable with is a huge help.
It will also help your photographer if you take pictures of the moves and angles you want to capture.
They have as much trouble with the multiple names for poses as we do! So keep pictures of the poses you plan for the day on your phone.
Practise Makes Perfect!
Once you've chosen your poses, keep practising them repeatedly in the time leading up to your photoshoot.
Have a friend take pictures from all angles to see which you prefer.
Look at details like where you need to focus more on pointing your toes, arching your back, extending your legs more, remembering to smile etc.
Practise your moves on a spinning pole. A lot of photographers have poles on spin to capture many angles so that you can choose your favourite.
If you aren't comfortable on spin, practise where you need to climb or invert from to get the angles you want to go for. Make sure you know exactly what to do on the day to get in the right position for the camera.
When practising, don't just practise the moves as you would in class, focus on tiny details too.
Something to watch out for is straining your eyes. When you look in a direction with your head remember to relax your eyes.
I've had a few bendy pictures where I was 'stretching' with my eyes, which makes them look more strained.
By the same token, you should practise relaxing your face and smiling, even if you're experiencing major thigh burn!
Practise making your hands look pretty too. For a long time my wrists used to look awful when I outstretched my arms.
It can be difficult to get used to, but keep a slightly loose wrist and practise making your fingers look pretty too.
Beauty Tips For Your Pole Photoshoot
How are your hair and makeup skills?
I should probably have learned from this myself, but for some reason I never do. My makeup is fine, but my hair usually looks a bit rubbish!
So, if you're rubbish with hair and makeup, book hair and makeup.
If you do your own makeup, try to avoid using highlighter. I've seen some stunning makeup look awful under flash photography and certain lighting just from the use of highlighter!
Makeup can be much more pronounced for a photoshoot. Just like if you were performing on stage, bigger is better!
So get out the fake eyelashes and don't be afraid to go for a bold look! Even the most natural look for your photoshoot will need to be more exaggerated. So eyeliner, false eyelashes and lip liner will help.
You should also consider getting a tan. This isn't a must and you will still look lovely without. That said, having a tan can help your muscles to look more defined in your photoshoot.
You won't look as dark as you might think with all the lighting or flash photography.
If this is something you're interested in, I would highly recommend St. Tropez Classic Tanning Mousse. It's super easy to apply at home using an applicator mitt in circular motions (use small amounts for hands and face to blend in).
Then all you have to do is leave it for 4-8 hours. Wash off the night before your photoshoot for an extremely natural looking streak free tan 🙂
Last but not least, don't forget details like your nails, feet and fingers! The last thing you want is to have perfect pictures and then realise your nails look awful in a high definition photograph.
Don't Overdo Your Training
Are you a bit of a perfectionist?
This is a big one for me as I recently ruined one of my photoshoot ideas by overtraining a move I wanted to capture.
The move in question was my Russian Split. I've had it for a while but I was trying so hard to get it looking flatter and flatter. That's how I pulled my hamstring just a week or so before my shoot.
I probably didn't need to push it so hard. I'm sure the picture would have looked great at any angle, horizontal or not!
Since I do a lot of splits moves this was a real pain for me. Not just because I couldn't do my russian split on the day. My other splits moves were affected and looked less splitty than usual due to my injury.
So try not to push yourself too hard. Go easy in the lead up to your photoshoot to avoid injuries or feeling fatigued on the day.
You should also have a complete rest day the day before your shoot, preserve all that energy for the shoot itself!
Which brings us to the day of your photoshoot...
How To Prepare On Photoshoot Day
On the day of the shoot you'll need to be up nice and early. Make sure you have enough time to finish hair and makeup before you leave.
Ideally you'll want to have a light meal 1 or 2 hours before your photoshoot, but nothing too heavy.
You want enough energy to fuel you through, but not so much that you are full and bloated. That's why it's a good idea to eat a couple of hours beforehand and take small snacks along with you.
Just make sure you don't start on an empty stomach, or you'll soon run out of energy!
I'm making some assumptions here that you would already have these things covered for pole but if you don't;
- Avoid moisturiser in the week leading up to your photoshoot, except body sorbet which can be great for your grip (as long as you wash your hands after applying).
- Avoid these foods on photoshoot week, they are prone to making your skin oily which can affect your grip.
You should arrive about half an hour early to your photoshoot location. This gives you enough time to warm up properly.
What To Take With You
- Wipes for your feet
- Grip aid
- A towel for you
- A towel for the pole (microfibre towels are ideal)
- Hair brush
- Shoes (if you're using them)
- Any change of outfits
- Emergency makeup, hair grips etc.
- Your list of pole moves for the day
Face wipes are often forgotten about. Just walking around in a studio even after you've had a shower can make your feet pretty dirty!
Avoid having beautiful pictures spoiled by dirty feet by keeping a pack of wipes close by 🙂
How To Preserve Your Energy
The first and easiest thing you should do to make the most of your energy in your time slot, is to figure out what order you want to do your poses in before you get to your shoot.
Take your list of moves and decide which ones are the easiest, and which are the hardest.
You will want to start with a couple of simple ones, especially if this is your first photoshoot.
Simple poses are perfect to calm your nerves while you're settling in and getting used to how the shoot works.
Then, once you're in your stride, I prefer to put any super difficult strength moves in next. That way, you won't be over-tired trying to fit them in at the end.
On my first pole photoshoot I left my Iron X until last. By the end I really struggled with it because the whole thing was really exhausting.
When you've gotten your strength moves out of the way you can play with your flexible tricks or 'easier' tricks. Things that are more in your comfort zone.
Another thing to watch out for is thinking you can capture several poses in one combo. Don't plan to do your moves one after the other in sequence.
You may think you can capture butterfly to flatline scorpio to superman really easily in one take. In reality a good photographer will want to adjust your lighting to get the best out of each shot.
It is tough and tiring work, so do something really simple first while the nerves settle. But don't leave your hardest strength tricks till last!
Get those out of the way early on. It truly is exhausting repeating 5-7 moves over and over in one half hour time slot.
Don't forget, sometimes simple effortless poses make for the prettiest pictures too!
Lastly, you could also consider teaming up with a friend 🙂
I did this in my latest photoshoot and it made life so much easier!
Why It Helps To Buddy Up For Your Photoshoot
As I said earlier, nailing 6 or 7 poses again and again until you have the perfect shot is absolutely exhausting!
I did this on my first photoshoot. The second time, a friend and I took back to back slots and took it in turns throughout the hour.
This was SO much less stressful! It also meant costume changes didn't eat into our photoshoot time as we could change while the other was up.
Having someone with you to shout at you if your toes aren't pointy is great too. If you're anything like me, sometimes you think you're pointing them but one foot might be a bit lazy!
How To Choose Your Favourite Shots
Once your photoshoot is done you'll go through the shots from the day to pick the ones for your final edits.
Have a look at them in bulk and take a closer look at the ones you think look best. There may be minor details that are slightly different between two shots.
Whether your hair is flowing slightly differently or your toes are more pointed. Check to see if your eyes might be looking in a better direction.
You might be disappointed in some of your pictures the first time around. It takes a little practise to really nail the perfect shots so don't be too hard on yourself.
Don't worry if your split wasn't perfect or you've done it better in class. Look beyond that.
Find pictures where you look relaxed and are enjoying yourself. Finally, trust your photographer! You're in safe hands with the professionals and the final edits will no doubt look stunning despite your own reservations.
Advice From The Experts
When it comes to photoshoots, no one has had more experience than the photographers themselves!
That's why in this next section, you'll find out exactly what the experts believe is the most important thing you should know for your first photoshoot.
Chris Underwood (Faceiro)
"Practise! You need to make sure you know what moves you want to do, as well as have a couple of additional moves just in case.
Get friends to take photos of you while you're trying different moves to see how they look in a photo.
Then, once you're pleased with your choice, practise. It's one thing doing the move in class. It's another holding it during a photoshoot and doing it over and over.
Normally you flow with moves and transition through a series of poses, which look great together but might not look so good alone.
Pole photoshoots are tough. No matter how strong you are, you'll find it hard. This is why I say to have a couple of options to use in case you run out of steam, or just can't make it work on the day.
The last thing you want to be doing, especially when time is limited, is to start messing around with possible move ideas. Be prepared and have a clear head."
Matt Point-Zero (Hipshot Photography)
"I think my biggest piece of advice would be in two parts around confidence. Firstly, for people who are thinking about their first pole shoot, my advice is don't hesitate, do it!
I see people arrive looking terrified sometimes, and I completely understand. If you haven't been part of one before then the idea of being centre of attention with other people around and some strange photographer pointing a camera at you can be intimidating. But that is NOT how these things are.
Pole shoots are some of the most fun, relaxed, supportive days we ever do. For every glamorous, elegant (carefully edited!) pole shot you have seen, there has usually been laughs, failures, grunting and sweating to hit the shape for the millisecond it takes for the camera to fire. Not to mention support people pushing, lifting and bending you once you are up there!
And the second part of that is this. Within 5 minutes of starting you will forget ANY nervousness you had and you will love it! So plan big!
Bring your most badass, smoking outfits. Bring props, themes, masks, whatever and plan the hardest and best move you have got.
You will do more than you could believe, and come away really feeling all the strength and skill control you have been building as a part of your pole skills.
A photoshoot really reminds you how damn cool you are and how far you have come!"
"I have plenty tips to give, I'm a pole dancer and I've been taking pictures of pole dancers since 2008 🙂 But here's my favourite one!"
David J Harrison
"My first and best tip is always to prepare for it.
Whether it's your first shoot or not, the nerves can kick in a little and anything that will help calm you on shoot day is a big help.
So go to a class or two to practise your shoot moves and always have a list of them on the day. With maybe a few notes on there to jog your memory of how to get into them.
Students can suddenly forget every pole move they've ever learned when it's time to do their shots. So a list to refer to is such a massive help.
After a couple of moves have been done, polers settle into the shoot a little and realise it's not as terrifying as they thought. So anything that helps with that initial flutter of nerves is great."
Finally; Relax, have fun & enjoy it!
I was really nervous for my first photoshoot. But those nerves soon simmered down and I had a lot of fun with it!
Following the tips in this article will help you to feel more relaxed as well. You'll head into your photoshoot knowing you have everything covered! 🙂
It will be an exciting day so to finish off, don't forget to cool down as usual. Treat yourself to a nice hot bath with some Epsom Salts.
If you have a massage roller at home it's also a good idea to have a roll around on that too, you'll need it!
All in all, enjoy your photoshoot. It's a time to celebrate your beauty and accomplishments.
Have you spotted anything I missed here? What do you wish you had done differently on your first photoshoot? Share your experience with us in the comments below!