Donna Park of Coppell, TX is the Founder/Executive Director of Texas Creative Arts Academy, and she’s also a professional photographer. Donna was kind enough to do an interview with me, answering common questions about how to take excellent photographs for use on your dance studio’s website. Thanks, Donna!

What kind of camera does a studio owner need to take great shots of their studio and dancers? Can I get away with using our iPhones, for example, or do we need something fancier?

There are a lot of great, inexpensive cameras today, that take great images. Now, as far as the iPhone goes, my opinion is that the quality really isn’t typically good enough for website photos. They tend to be blurry (if you are not rock steady) and just not rich enough. It’s my belief that your website is your “first impression opportunity” so your images should reflect your studio’s professionalism. Blurry or less than stellar photos might send the wrong message.
There are some great “point and shoot” cameras, however, that DO generate great images. In the past, I’ve uploaded photos from a Nikon coolpix camera that looked very good.

What is better to have on a dance studio website – posed shots, candids, or action shots (students dancing/performing)?

I think this is up to you, as to how you want your studio portrayed. For our theatre, we post a variety of shots, but focus on the performing photos since those are typically the best looking and portrays what we do.

I want to take photos of my dancers in action, for use on my website. Any tips on getting a clear shot?

Use a tripod! It’s very difficult to capture action shots without getting a blurred image. Even professionals struggle with getting everything razor sharp. If you can put your camera on a tripod…do it! If you don’t have a camera that you can control the shutter speed, you may continue to experience blurred photos.

My advice would be to find a professional photographer in your area. Photographers who can get your studio “portrait” business should be eager to hand over digital photos for you to use for promotional purposes with no extra charge to you.

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How do I frame a good shot?

There is a guideline in the photography world known as the “rule of thirds.” This guideline states that an image in your view finder should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. Place your most important elements (for instance, eyes) along the lines of intersections. While this may sound confusing, you can google “rule of thirds” for additional explanation.

How in the heck do I handle lighting?

Certainly, each situation presents it’s own set of circumstances. If your camera has an auto mode, and you are not well versed in photography, use the auto mode and enable the flash. This way, the camera can help take the guesswork out and adjust using the flash as necessary. For a more stylized photo, consult a professional photographer.

What about photo releases? Are they necessary?

For photos used on your website or any print materials, make sure that you have a photo release for anyone appearing in photos that represent your studio. When it comes to children and youth, it’s especially important to make sure you have the permission from parent/guardians. At our theatre, we have an electronic form that they sign acknowledging that we may photograph their child for promotional purposes and granting permission. If there are parents who do not wish for their children to be on Facebook, website, or other promotional materials, they may indicate this on the form.

Any bonus tips for us?

I believe that photographs can either make or break a website. Do whatever you can to get great photos to represent your business.

Donna Park is a member of the Professional Photographers of America and owner of DKP Photography. Donna is also Founder/Executive Director of Texas Creative Arts Academy, Coppell Arts Preschool, Stage Door Talent, and Texas Creative Arts Theatre. Like so many of our readers, she is one heck of a busy lady. Thanks again for your time, Donna!

Do you have any tips on taking excellent shots for a dance studio’s website? Please comment below!

Best wishes,
Stacey

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