I'm going to provide you with the right tools and eliminate all the guesswork on what equipment and tools to use when photographing dance studio portraits.
Please note: there are affiliate links below. I have tested EVERY resource on this page. Most if not all of them are critical in my business when I photograph dance studio portraits.
I want to give you a list of equipment that I personally use and have been using over the years.
Equipment I Use
When it comes to your 2 main lights I would advise investing a little. I have owned a pair of Norman lights for over 10 years without having any issues, besides replacing a few bulbs. The main thing I want you to take away here is to make sure to find lights that have a fast recharge cycle rate.
I use 2 of these mono lights to light up background if I choose to photograph on white. This helps wash out the background and makes your post-production a lot easier.
Impact 7' Improved Parabolic Umbrella
For the longest time, I used a large soft-box as the main light. I have recently switched to this parabolic umbrella. I found that the quality of my work hasn't diminished and this makes the setup and tear down process a lot faster.
Soft Silver Umbrella (45")
I use a silver umbrella as the kicker light. This helps give your photos a little more contrast and pop while also filling in your subject.
Impact Air-Cushioned Light Stand
I prefer to use an air cushioned light stand. When you have heavy lights attached you don't want it to drop suddenly. You want to make sure the base is also wide enough for stability. You can use with for both your lights and for your background stand.
When it comes to the camera I use a Canon 80d with the kit lens. This is a budget friendly option that will give you great results. You can use any brand Nikon, Sony, etc that is an equivalent DSLR
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens
Ok, so this is not so cheep but does make a difference for that tack sharp image quality. I occasionally use this lens while photographing dance studios but my main go to lens is the kit lens 18-135mm lens. Gives me a great zoom range for full length and close up poses.
Radio Popper - Wireless Transmitter
I started using this brand a few years ago after many problems with a budget transmitter. This is another tool you don't want to go cheap on. Makes a huge difference in making sure every time you press the shutter release button the flash will go off. Don't want to miss a shot.
White Marley Flooring
If using a white background I would recommend purchasing a marley vinyl floor. It can get expensive but, for the long hall, is well worth it. Having a solid floor instead of a cloth prevents dancers fro tripping on background and makes cleaning easier and faster.
Neewer 10x12 ft White Backdrop
If you are wanting to photograph on a white background I would recommend using this one. You want to make sure the size is large enough even if you are to photograph groups. This does require a few more lights to setup but using white makes your editing way easier.
Extra Good Stuff
PhotoVision 14 in Digital Calibration TARGET
Setting white balance will save you a ton of time in lightroom and in post production. I use this target for every photoshoot and it helps make sure every picture is consistent with colors and white balance.
Melissa & Doug Sticker Collection Book
This is a must have in your bag of tricks. When kids are scared or not following directions you can use this as an incentive for the child to smile and listen.
Melissa & Doug Ballerina Puppet
This is another tool I use to help kids relax and smile for pictures. You want to take the focus off you and on to something that makes them feel at ease.
Melissa & Doug Mermaid Puppet
Most kids love mermaid. I always have 2 puppets at hand in case a child doesn't resonate with one.
Discounted Used Laptops
Once you have a few dance studios under your belt I would recommend switching over to instant viewing stations (kiosks) in order for people to view and order the day of pictures. I purchase all my computers from this store and have found some great deals.
Business Tools I Use
This is an eCommerce platform in order to help you sell your dance pictures. I use this to help sell my pictures and they make it easy on my business by processing all orders placed online, directly. No more having to mess with shipping or handling orders. They do it all.
SALES ORDERING / VIEWING SOFTWARE
Miltonstreet Photo Parata
This is the software that I use for my instant viewing stations (kiosks). It's very simple to use and reliable. There are a few more moving parts when going down this direction for selling pictures, instead of online sales, but your sales will be larger because you are capturing the attention of the parents and impulse buying
Richmond Pro Lab
This is the photo lab that I use to process all my print and digital image order. I have used them for 10+ years and have been very pleased with the customer service and support. There are a lot of photo labs you can use out there but just keep in mind what their drop shipping fees and policies are.
Guides & Courses
Dance Pose Guide
If you're having a hard time remembering all those dance poses this quick reference guide (PDF) with over 300 dance poses will help in posing for ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, pointe, and hip hop.
Posing - Dance Studio Portraits
Learn how to pose dancers for portraits. This course will teach you how to pose for ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, pointe, and hip hop. This is great if you want a visual walkthrough and instruction on how to pose dancers.
Dance Studio Portraits Master Class
Learn the exact steps I take when photographing dance studio portraits. I cover everything from marketing, scheduling, different ways to setup, processing orders, and customer service. Whether you're new to dance portraits or a veteran, learn the strategies I use that has made me over $100,000 just photographing dance studios in the spring.