The picture above is of my daughter Francesca and was taken with in camera softening and a simple studio lighting set up. The diffusion is created using a thin silk chiffon gauze stretched over a skylight filter. I like to get the look right in camera to save post production time later.
Here are some ideas from my ballet portrait promotions that I usually put on at this time of year.
There are simple lighting tweaks between sitting, kneeling and standing positions just to raise and lower the lights as required. I also swap the key light from left to right to suit the pose.
A good selection of poses will ensure a broad range of pictures for multi frames and canvas clusters. I started with a beginner book on ballet by Dorling Kindersley. It’s full of elegant poses with accurate feet and hand positions. We have also amassed a collection of tutus and skirts of different sizes and colours for the girls to wear. This adds to the fun of the event.
The strobes are on a Hi-Glide rig and are cabled back to one point for easy switching on and off. This also keeps the floor clear of cables. Just one well run promotion like this can fund a studio refit. My first ever promotion was shot in the local village hall that I hired for £10 ($15) /hour. I use a mid grey paper background roll and 3 flash heads. I use one flash with a softbox and grid as a key light. A flash with a 21mm reflector and grid as a back light and another gridded flash to put a spot of light on the background.
With a promotion like this you need to ensure absolute accuracy and attention to detail. The position of the child’s feet and hands, body posture and pose are all important as most ballet mums used to do ballet themselves and they can spot a sickle-foot instantly. With 40 to 50 or so children to photograph over three days simplicity of the set up and process is vital.
We have 500 flyers printed and distributed to the many ballet schools in the region. Each ballet teacher gets a reward of 50% of the shoot fees from their pupils to put towards costumes and equipment for the school. This ensures their cooperation and marketing support.
I usually run my promotion in November and have the viewings in the first week of December. These pictures make ideal Christmas gifts for parents and grandparents alike. My previous experience has shown that beautifully lit and printed ballet photographs sell really well and are treasured for a long time.
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