Headshots For Dancers: Tips For A Perfect Dance Headshot

Dancing is a form of emotional expression, and a headshot is a form of saving those moments. So, what are headshots for dancers and their meaning? Where do dancers use their headshots? How should a dancer prepare for his or her headshots?

This article will show you the essentials of headshots and some bonus tips on how to take good a dancer headshot.

What Is A Dancer Headshot?

A headshot for dancers is similar to that of an actor or a businessman. It focuses on showing a specific impression for a dancer, depending on the dance role you are playing. Therefore, a headshot focuses more on giving an impression than conveying an emotion or expression.

A dancer uses his or her headshots on promotional channels (for example, on his/her website, at an audition, etc.) to give the first impression to a creative director or a dance company. For a dance company, preparing a headshot is a way to show profiles of available dancers in the company.

What Makes A Good Headshot For Dancers?

Whether this is the first time you take headshots for dance competitions, or you are planning to make it in your dance company, you should know some following key criteria to make a good headshot.

Convey personality and energy

The most important criterion in a headshot for dancers is YOU. In other words, your headshot should convey your energy and personality to whom you target your headshot too.

Think about your dance style and your uniqueness. Be honest, and show your charm and personality while still looking genuine. A headshot is not just a nice picture, but an imaginary presentation of yourself as a dancer.

Natural look, don’t be artificial

Avoid distractions like noisy backgrounds, ridiculous poses, fashion accessories, or makeup. Keep the focus of your commercial headshots on your face and your eyes.

Plus, you should keep your headshot natural by using your hair color, facial hair, or hair length to make yourself look better but still resemble your authenticity.

Choose poses you feel comfortable and relaxed with instead of showing theatrical expressions. You should even keep some freckles and moles on your face to stay authentic to your natural appearance. The more authentic the headshot is, the more chances you will get the job.

Types of shots

You should have various looks for many types of headshots. A headshot collection must have a minimum of 2 images – a clean commercial shot and a non-dance full-body portrait.

Besides, you can add more photos like a fitness shot, a lively performance image, or a theatrical shot.

A theatrical shot is essential for dancers who aim to be cast in TV, theatre, and film. On the other hand, a commercial shot is for dancers who want to take part in a TVC or advertising film.

Depending on the angle of the dancer, there are 4 types of shots including 1/4 headshots, 3/4 headshots, 1/2 headshots, and full-body headshots.

Changing shot types isn’t merely about changing your outfits, but also about your intention and the general vibe of your images. Several components that might affect your shot types are lighting, colors, background, and mood.

Size & Quality of the headshot

Printing is the final and also important criterion of a good dancer’s headshot. The standard size headshot for a dance audition is a resume for the dancer, or other similar purposes is 8×10 inches.

And don’t forget to check the printing paper quality. Use high-quality paper (like semi-gross, an affordable option), in high-resolution color. Print one side only, since casting/creative directors often want to check your headshot and your resume side-by-side.

The headshot image should be printed with or without a border on the paper. And your name is always center placed in the bottom or corner, using a legible font.

What To Wear For Dance Headshots?


Besides your appearance, clothing is another important point and also a challenging part you should consider carefully when preparing for headshots. The outfit should stay neutral with big, clear brand logos.

The outfit that looks great in real life might not look the same in photos. You can ask for advice from fellow performers or dance professionals, or check your outfits via an agency if possible.

Hair & makeup

Hair and makeup are as crucial as clothing in commercial headshot photography. In some headshots, especially headshots for young dancers with little experience in the industry, there is a lack of hairstyle and makeup. They don’t change their commercial makeup and hairstyle for edgy shots.

If you are too busy with hair and makeup styles, or you want to earn perfection in your appearance, you should hire a professional hair and makeup artist. They have high-quality makeup and hair products, and also have intense experience in this field, thus knowing how to make you look good on camera.

The cost hiring professionals for hair and makeup can cost you around $75 to $300. This depends on whether you are a male or female, the total number of looks in your headshot collection, your hair type, and your facial condition, and whether the artist will stay on your location for touch-ups or not.

Check more: 15+ Cute Hairstyles For Dancers

Below are some extra tips on hair and makeup:

  • Hair: You should have more than one option for your hairdo, like the up-do and hair-down options.
  • Make-up: You should maintain your natural look with a moderate amount of makeup. Your portrait makeup should be strong enough to show your facial expressions. But still, stay authentic to let the creative directors recognize you and your features.

You can gently exfoliate your lips and skin the night before shooting, and apply moisturizer or moisturizing mask for glowy skin.

Headshot Tips For Dancers: Dos & Don’t

Be well-prepared

You should refresh your dance headshots once every year or two, or in case your appearance changes dramatically (for example, gain weight, lose weight, or dye your hair).

To look best on the shooting day:

  • Have intense care of your skin and your hair. And, remember to get a good night sleep to avoid feeling bloated, sleepy, or weak in front of the camera.
  • Take your time to research photographers, makeup artists, and image editing/printing services. You can ask your friends and mentors for recommendations, or look for their names in the credits of dancers’ headshots you love.
  • Keep your outfits simple and neat. Your best clothes should be the ones that fit you well and make your look glowy. While vivid-colored clothes look modern, ones with black, white, or grey can still make stunning classic shots.
  • Don’t pick clothes that have complicated patterns. Instead, find ones that have special necklines (V-neck, sweetheart, boat neck, tank tops, or collared shirts). Jeans can help you look more natural and comfortable in your outfits, even though your photos are higher than the waist or shoulders.
  • (For female dancers) Don’t forget extra undergarments like nude strapless bras and nude thongs, in case your current undergarments don’t meet the requirements.
  • A valise of possible outfits could be great for the shooting session. Yet, don’t bring too many options!

Be confident

You should have clear goals for your headshots as well as a clear image of yourself and what you want to impress your audiences in your dance career. These initial pieces of information will help your photographers know how to take shots that match your requirements.

Nonetheless, be confident to speak up on the shooting day. If you aren’t happy with something, you should share it with your photographer and your hair/makeup artists.

Choose photographer

Do your research homework. Check online websites for the profiles and portfolios of photographers. You can shorten your list based on criteria like your style and whether there is a shooting style in their previous work that fits you.

Get help from the agency: You can ask for photographer recommendations from a dance agency. If not, you can ask your peers or mentors to see if there is a talented photographer they have worked with before.

Don’t overspend: Since headshots are an expensive investment for your dance career, you should spend your budget wisely. Pick photographers that fit into your budget range. The shooting price can vary based on your total number of look and their service packages.

Communicate with your photographer: Talk on the phone or in person to check if the photographers are a good fit with your headshots.

Read more: 10 Famous Dance Photographers

Do communicate during the shot

Spend your shooting time wisely by active communication with your shooting team. Talk to them, and make sure they have a clear list of what you want to express in this headshot collection.

You can give some pose suggestions you want to try with your photographer or comments on the lighting and shooting angles.

Throughout the shooting session, make sure that your photographer and your hair/makeup artist know the purpose of your headshot photos. You can make a quick outline of your purpose before working by answering some questions like:

  • What do you need to get from these headshots?
  • What are these photos for? (shots for a specific audition or casting, or updating new photos on your online portfolio, websites, or casting hubs)


Professional headshots for dancers are a serious investment for all dancers and should be updated regularly every one to two years. Therefore, you should spend your time and effort picking up reputation photographers/makeup artists and taking care of yourself before the shooting day.

Remember to utilize these tips to ensure your commercial photos show the best of you and your personality.

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