Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Recital Photo Day

Glitter Photos
[ - *Glitter Photos*]
Recital Photo Day

Recital photo day is the day in which students come to the dance studio, or another location, to have a professional photograph taken in their dance recital costume. Usually each student is photographed alone in each of their costumes and then each group is photographed all together. These recital photos turn out to be cherished memories for both students and parents. The pictures, especially the group photos, also turn out to be great for the teachers memories, along with great shots to use in advertising. Recital photo day is also a great opportunity for the teacher to do a final check of all the costumes on the dancers' bodies and for all the students to practice hair and makeup techniques.

Through the years, I have learned much about creating a peaceful recital photo day experience for all involved. It is important to make the day as stress free for everyone. You do not want photo day to be an annual dreaded event. First of all, do your research when choosing a photographer. The quality of pictures that this person takes is important, but you need a photographer that is patient, kind, and will listen to your thoughts and ideas. Make sure the photographer likes children and that they are organized, timely, and prompt. Do not choose a photographer that is too expensive. Make sure the prices of the photos are reasonable and affordable. If prices are expensive, parents will not show up for picture day, will not purchase pictures, or worse yet- go somewhere like Sears to get their kids picture taken. Parents have already spent lots of money throughout the year on dance lessons, dance wear, costumes, and recital tickets. Don't break their bank anymore than you have to. Also, have parents purchase pre-paid packages of pictures. Do not deal with proofs and having parents choose what pictures they want after the pictures are developed. This is too much work for you and not worth it. It is hard to track parents down to sit and look at pages of pictures, wait for them to decide, collect payment, and take their final order. With pre-paid packages, the pictures come in and you hand them out. It's much easier.

I used to be strict about making the students change into their costume once they arrived at the picture taking location. I now believe it is okay to let students arrive in their costume. Make sure you stress a zillion times to parents that they have to be extremely careful with their costumes. No eating or drinking in the costumes and no playing in them. Please, please, please, announce the schedule of photo day well in advance. People do have lives and commitments. Teachers who announce the schedule a week before drive me nuts. I believe in announcing the entire schedule for the year at registration time. Then people can plan ahead and plan around the dance school's calendar. If people are given notice in advance, you will have less problems later on. When making the photo day schedule, leave plenty of time for each group. If you schedule not enough time for each group, you will quickly be "running late," which makes people angry. Have the photographer snap one pose for each individual dancer and one pose for each group. If you do multiple poses, the day drags on forever. If dancers are in several dances, give them enough time in the photography schedule to have time to change costumes. Also, try to schedule families with sibling in different dances to coincide on the schedule. Families will appreciate you if you take time to make their number of travel times to picture day as minimal as possible. The dance teacher for each group should be in the room posing the dancers. Do not let the photographer do it. They are usually not trained in dance and the poses will end up looking like a sports team. Have all the poses figured out ahead of time. Then there is no time wasted standing around trying to come up with the best pose. You can have each group practice their group pose and individual poses the week before in class. That way everyone knows exactly what to do. I believe that parents should be able to see their child get their picture taken. Make it clear to parents that they are not to step on your toes of the photographers toes. They can watch, but need to stay back and be quiet so the dancer looks at the photographer and not mommy or daddy. They are not to take their own pictures either. Now that I have my own kids, I know how much parents yearn to just watch their child get their picture taken. I know I like to stand by my child as long as I can and make sure that the hair stays in place, the skirt hasn't shifted and the ties on the shoes are tucked in. I think it's okay for parents to be there, but it has to be in a controlled manner. Only let one group at a time in the room and put a tape line on the floor that the parents have to stand behind. Send out a note beforehand stating the rules of picture day. It is usaully only the parents of young children that are interested in seeing their child get their picture taken.

When the photos are finished and ready to be delivered, hand them in the easiest way possible. It is by far the best to hand out recital pictures before the end of the year. Hand them out in class or at dress rehearsal. You can also hand them out before, after, or during intermission of the recital. Although, in class or dress rehearsal is much easier. If anyone has an issue with their photos, have them call the photographer and deal with the photographer themselves. It is too hard to be the middle man. Avoid it when you can.

When choosing your photographer, make sure you work out your deal with the photographer ahead of time. The most common agreements between photographers and dance studio owners is that the dance school owners makes a commission in money or photographers. Go for both if you can. Try to get an agreement where you can make at least a few hundred dollars in commission and get a copy of each group picture. If you can get that, that's a good deal. I have had photographers that have only wanted to give me a small stack of group photos. How much does that really cost them. Basically nothing. Another option is to get the photographers prices ahead of time, add $1.00-$5.00 onto each package, collect the orders yourself ahead of time with the checks made out to you, and write the photographer one big check. That way you can set your own commission. You shouldn't feel bad about making a little money for yourself on this day. On recital photo day you work hard and spend a lot of time on this additional day.

You should treat the photographer with respect. He or she will respect you and want your business in the future, if you are friendly and respectful. Help the photographer if he or she needs help with setting up equipment and have drinks snacks or lunch on hand.

Recital photo day should be quick, stress free, and happy. It should be easy on you, the students, the parents, and the photographer. Beautiful pictures should be the result. The photographer should walk away with a happy profit for his time as well as you.


  1. Thanks for this post. It was really helpful. We have never done photos like this before. I am always too scared to let the kids wear their costumes, because I know what will happen. I think I'll try it this year.

  2. We have never tried taking pictures with the kids new costumes. I am always scared that they will mess them up. I think I will try it this year. I'll let you know how it works out.

  3. ExpressInMotionMonday, June 15, 2009

    We have the photographer come to our rehearsal for pictures. If you plan it right, the photographer can begin up to an hour (although I recommend only 30 minutes, so the students aren't sitting around afterwards for a long period of time) prior to the rehearsal start time -- that way, the students performing in the first number already have their pictures taken in costumes. And, individual pictures can be taken at the same time. Occasionally, it throws a small kink in the rehearsal schedule due to students in multiple routines, but all in all, it works very well, and the parents appreciate not having to do multiple dates for pictures, rehearsal, recital, etc... (btw, our dress rehearsal and recital are same day; early afternoon and evening)