5 Photo Shoot Tips From 6 of Your Favorite Photographers from Ballet Photography 2020 edition

Whether it's a stunning photo of your favorite ballerina, a snapshot of your team during a performance, or a crazy flexy pose on your Insta feed we got the scoop from six dance photographers on how you can be prepared for your next photo session

by Mihaela Moldoveanu
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Whether you need a professional photo for your portfolio or you just want to have some fun dancing and immortalize the session, now you can find out what a real photographer thinks about a photo session. Meet six extraordinary photographers from Ballet Photography project organized by Ballet Magazine Romania.

What’s the mindset of a dancer, what to ask from a photographer, how to work together for the best results, how to relax before and during the photo shoot, this professionals tell you all about it. Next time you pose for a friend or for an audition, you will know what to ask and what to expect so you can enjoy dancing and showing your skills and emotions even more!

Also read:

Get ready & Save the date: October 19! “PROFESIONAL BALLET PHOTOGRAPHY, 2021 EDITION”

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Meet the most voted ballet photographers in the “Ballet Photography 2020 edition”

The six photographers are Corina Radu, Mihai Cristian Andrei, Daniel Mânăscurtă, Delia Știrbu, all of them the most voted photographers  in the “Ballet Photography 2020 edition”, but also Daniel Schneider and Daria Chenikova, both of them Jury members of “Ballet Photography 2021 edition”. Find below the questions and answers for a successful ballet shooting!

What mindset should dancers have before a photo shoot?

Andrei Mihai Cristian – They just need be relaxed and aware that the photo session is not equal to a stage performance. It’s just a fun way for capturing emotions while performing graceful moves. It’s ok to make mistakes because here they can try again until they are satisfied with the outcome.

Daria Chenikova – I advise you to prepare for the shoot both physically and mentally.  The best shots are obtained when the model and photographer have decided on the location, clothing, style and mood in advance.  Plus, an excellent result will be obtained if the model and the photographer are in a good mood and set for creative work and work with pleasure.

Daniel Mânăscurtă – First, I always discuss with dancers prior a photo shoot and we agree on what we want to achieve as a result, which environment is the most comfortable for them – outdoor or studio – what poses and moves they are willing to perform and other details or concerns that might have. In this way we are getting to know each other and avoid the unknown, leading to a proper mindset and involvement. Second, engagement of creativity from the dancer’s point of view will setup a better and a positive mindset, ultimately both photographer and dancer are in a creative mood.

Corina Radu – Before stepping into a photo shoot dancers should be relaxed. Planning a photo shoot in a stress-free time frame I think is a must.

Daniel Schneider – Well, a positive one! I can do it, so I’ll do it! No matter how hard the poses are, no matter how cold it is.

Delia Știrbu – The most important aspect to be kept in mind is to have fun. Dancers should feel good and excited about the entire process. The photographer is there to capture their beautiful bodies and their amazing skills, aspects they have been working on their entire life. A dancer photo session is always a celebration of their artistry and not something to be anxious about.

Do you recommend dancers to come in with planned poses or improvise?

Corina Radu – In my opinion, for an experienced dancer, improvising will yield the best results.

Daniel Mânăscurtă –  I am open for both planned and improvised poses. However, usually I am trying to complete what we agreed on during the initial discussion but also give freedom to imagination and creativity. I am aiming to have the dancer involved in the photo session all the time.

Daria Chenikova– Do as you like.  If you want to take a photo of certain poses, then it is better to come with photos examples.  And if you are a person of mood, then you can improvise.  In both cases, I always help make your best.

Andrei Mihai Cristian – Both. It’s very wise to plan ahead. For instance, it saves a lot of time if you have a well known choreography that the dancers enjoy performing and you can start improvising from there. For me, it works well and it also  gives the dancers a sense of confidence which will help them execute the moves flawlessly; from their ideas will flow and also emotions will be present.

Delia Știrbu – Dancers have very good control over their bodies and usually know best what their strengths are. Thus it is useful if they come prepared with poses that highlight those strengths, but these poses should be only the basis for further movement development during the photo shoot. Most of the time improvisation creates the best images.

Daniel Schneider – That’s a matter of preferences combined with the purpose of the shooting. Is it a professional targeted one? Is it a bit of fun for social media?

Is it paramount that the dancers have a specific goal in mind for photo shoots?

Daniel Mânăscurtă – It depends. Is it a portfolio photoshoot? Then we need to follow the requirements set by the ballet school. Is it ballet art photography? Then we can improvise but also follow the main idea of the project. In few words, yes, It is always better to know which are the expected results and work to achieve that scope.

Corina Radu – Yes, they should ask themselves: ”What do I want to achieve by doing this?”, choose their photographer, have a preliminary talk and then plan the actual shoot.

Daniel Schneider – My experience is … there must be a goal! And usually, the goal is to get the best possible shots, in the least amount of time, with the least energy consumption. And, of course, to have a looooot of fun and even gain a bit of experience!

Daria Chenikova – Not always.  If it’s an audition shoot, then one goal is to show the required poses in the best possible way.  But if it is a creative shooting for personal use, then it is better not to pursue any goal and just try to catch the muse and create a special mood.

Delia Știrbu – The main goal should be to showcase themselves and their skills as honestly and as authentically as possible. That is the raw material that the photographer will be looking for and on which both photographer and model will work.

How do you get dancers to relax, move freely and let their personality shine through on camera?

Andrei Mihai Cristian – By encouraging them to feel free and telling them that on the photo shooting set we don’t strive for perfection but rather for emotion. So they should let all their constraints go and just dance and embrace the moment. Also, I try to make each photo session fun because being joyful helps a lot.

Corina Radu – Having a preliminary talk before setting up the actual shoot helps a lot. You get accustomed to each other and find out more about the dancers’ personality.

Daniel Mânăscurtă – To be mentally prepared based on the initial conversation is a must. Then, before starting shooting, I always propose some warm-up moves and free poses, without taking photos actually. This will get the dancer more focused on what she/ he is performing rather than paying attention to the camera. Get your best friend on set – that can improve your confidence and it can also help you in some cases like changing your outfit, make-up retouch. And not the last, to support you.

After having some shots for a specific scene, one more thing that I am considering: showing the results to the dancer and discussing the improvements, if any. Or we (both me and the dancer)  propose a change in the body pose – hand, leg, head position or angle – then we are comparing it to the one before, just to be convinced that we have good results. In my opinion, collaboration and involvement is the key for getting the best results. Let the dancer be creative and express emotions!

Daria Chenikova – First, you need to choose the photographer you can trust.  Take a close look at his work, do these photos inspire you?  If technical issues are important to you, check that the photographer always monitors the correct execution of the pose, turn out, feet and back.  If you have chosen the right photographer, then trust him/her, he/she is interested in making you look great.  I advise photographers to treat models with kindness and attention, support them, not force them to do poses that do not work out correctly.  Of course, the excitement will be present on the first shoot.  But it will go away when experience and a large portfolio appear.  This applies for both, model and photographer.

Daniel Schneider – I am a very relaxed guy myself so … relaxing comes naturally! Yet it depends again on the purpose of the shooting. If it’s a professional one, the relaxation is not always given since there are definite targets. For a fun shooting, the relaxation is the status quo! And moving freely is always a must! They, the dancers, should always shine! It’s who they are!

Delia Știrbu – There is no standard recipe for this. It depends on each model. I usually play some music and try to talk as much as I can with the dancers before the photo shoot so they know that they can feel comfortable in front of my camera.

What tips do you usually give to the dancers on set?

Daniel Schneider – Be yourself! Be wild! Be free! And never do something that makes you uncomfortable! Take the poses which are putting you in the best possible light, do what suits you best, do what you feel!

Delia Știrbu – Enjoy yourself, loosen up and don’t be afraid to shine. My goal is to capture you and your passion for dance.

Daniel Mânăscurtă – Be involved, discuss, propose, laugh, have a break when needed. Also very important, take a good rest before the shooting session and be punctual!

Andrei Mihai Cristian – I cannot give any tips to professional dancers. Nor amateurs. They are aware of what they are doing from a dancing point of view. I just encourage them to feel free and express themselves through dance. And I will try capturing their grace and emotions as well as I can.  I think this is the suitable approach for success.

Corina Radu – Pretend I’m not here, get into character, let your emotions flow.

Daria Chenikova – I do not have any general tips for dancers, I find individual tips for each one.

What’s the mindset of a dancer, what to ask from a photographer, how to work together for the best results, how to relax before and during the photo shoot, this professionals just told you all about it!

Find below who they are, and some of theirs best works!

Corina Radu,  official photographer at the ”Oleg Danovski” Opera and Ballet National Theater

My passion for photography began in high school and I have enjoyed the wonderful world of performing arts since I was a small child as both of my parents are artists. It was only in 2017 when I had the opportunity to become the official photographer at the ”Oleg Danovski” Opera and Ballet National Theater that I managed to bring the two together. Attending a live artistic performance is a wonderful and unique experience; photographing a live show for me is both an honor and a challenge. Since 2017 I shot more than 50 ballet performances.


Andrei Mihai Cristian, creator of  #UrbanSwan, #LittleBallerina,  #PartnersInArt, #NotHuman

I am an ordinary, optimistic guy who still believes in the cliché “good always wins”. My appetite for dance photography started in 2015, after watching the documentary entitled “First Position”, which presented the story of six young dancers while preparing for one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world: Youth America Grand Prix.

All dancers that become successful put out an enormous effort into daily training and we, as spectators, most of the time, don’t even notice. We admire / criticize driven by appearances but we do not wonder what lies behind the curtain. I wanted to illustrate this idea through photography and this is how the Urban Swan project was born, consisting of three parts: Black, White and Inception.  The ballerina represented the image of grace of the sublime and the dusty streets of Bucharest, the ordinary, that consists of the infinite hours of hard work in order to succeed.

Also during 2015, I started my solo project Little Ballerina, in which I documented, during five years, the evolution of little Anca Berteanu in her dance career. And it has been taken over by several publications.

In April 2020, I started the #PartnersInArt collaboration with Cezara Blioju, in which we set out to give dance photography its own, creative and impactful connotation . #NotHuman.  If you wish to see what we achieved so far, please visit www.dinMers.ro.


Delia Stirbu: I am striving to capture people authentically

I am a photographer, theatre director and actress. My journey in photography began 8 years ago, all thanks to my teacher, Dan Beșliu. Now my passion has turned into my profession. As a photographer, I am striving to capture people authentically to reveal their raw emotions and passions. As an artist, I navigate towards musical productions where art forms, where dancing and singing are essential. I started photographing dancers with this exact purpose, believing that movement is one of the most honest expressions of oneself. In the future, I am planning on pursuing more creative projects inspired by dancers around me, both colleagues and friends.


Paul-Daniel-SchneiderDaniel Schneider, jury member of Ballet Photography 2021 edition

Paul Daniel Schneider is widely known in the Romanian ballet world. He is a Munich based photography artist and a continuous explorer of the unique field of ballet photography. Born in Romania, Paul Daniel Schneider is one photographer, which among with some good others, keeps the Romanian ballet photography alive. He published the very first photo album with ballet photography in Romania, promoting the young dancers from the Cluj-Napoca ballet high school in 2018. Since then in 2019 he published the SMURD 25 years of history in the city of Cluj-Napoca. Writing for the Ballet Magazine as a collaborator, Daniel continues being actively involved in the Romanian ballet photography scene. He’s been all over the world shooting with one of the most famous ballerinas. Today he lives happily in Munich.


Daria Chenikova, Jury member of Ballet Photography 2021

International ballet photographer based in Moscow, Russia. Since 2016, Daria has been shooting only ballet. She works with artists from the best theaters in the world, including the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and the Mariinsky Theater in Saint Petersburg. Daria is also trusted to take photographs of the students of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and the Vaganova Academy. She has done a lot of shooting in Europe (Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Finland, Armenia, Georgia). In her works, she underlines the grace of the ballerina’s lines, as well as the lightness and romanticism of ballet.


Daniel Manascurta : ” I adore to capture the human body!”

As a photographer I adore to capture the human body and immortalize it. Ballet and dance are my main source of inspiration, however I am very passionate and interested in capturing the beauty of the human body in any context, but especially in a dynamic scene.

I am an IT Engineer by profession and I am currently studying photography at National University of Theatre and Film “I.L. Caragiale” in Bucharest. In my portfolio you may find works including ballet photography, outdoor or in studio,  rhythmic gymnastics and aerobics contests, choreography photo shoots from UNATC exams and Serghei Polunin performance from TIFF Cluj Romania. Please find more about my work here

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