Hello everyone! Thanks for tuning in to my first blog post. I was inspired to incorporate a blog on my website after my recent Instagram Story question I sent out regarding what holds some of you back from booking your first professional aerial portraiture session. I received an array of responses, but the common theme seemed to center around not feeling confident enough in the air and fearing that this lack of confidence would translate into the resulting photos.
Having worked with aerialists of ALL levels, from beginner hobbyist to advanced professional, I am here to hopefully squash a few of beliefs about who does and does not “deserve” to have their photo taken, as well as offer a few key pieces of advice for how to prepare for your first shoot.
No matter where you are at in your aerial journey, I highly encourage you to think about booking a shoot with a photographer in your area. Why? Because being an aerialist of any level is insanely bad-ass. Being one myself, I know how much time, dedication and resilience goes into learning this incredibly difficult skill. No matter the reason for why you train, it’s great to have a visual representation of your passion to look back on if you have to take time away, if you are in a low motivational moment, or even if you just want to show off how seriously hard you have worked to get to where you are. I had my first shoot when my hip-keys were sub-par and my straddles were non existent, and I still look back on those photos fondly because they remind me of my progress and how proud of myself I was in that moment.
If you feel slightly more convinced but still uncertain or intimidated, here are a few tips that can hopefully help you prepare for your first shoot. My featured aerialist for this post is the lovely Victoria Chonn-Ching, who braved her fears of her first shoot, and we created some absolutely stunning images together.
THE SIMPLER, THE BETTER
Often times, complex wraps and difficult strength-based poses tend to translate better as movement. Remember, a photograph is a still instance within that movement, so the pose/shape has to hold up on its own as the viewer will usually not have the full context. Simple shapes and even transitional moments make for stunning images for this reason. At least once per session, I will have clients sit in a simple foot-lock or Russian climb and frame the shot around that. The simplicity gives us an opportunity to work more with how the hands are being held, what emotion is being conveyed, etc. Also, because simpler poses can often be easier to maintain, we have more “rounds” to get it right and can keep searching until we find our ideal line. Basically, there’s a lot more room to play.
CONSIDER YOUR GRIP
One of the biggest remarks I hear from clients and models, regardless of their level of skill is “WOW, photoshoots are way harder than normal training,” or something of that nature. The main reason for this is that you are holding your poses for seconds at a time rather than moving through. On top of that, you are trying to make this static posing look effortless and dreamy. Easy, right?
When thinking about the types of poses you want to might want to capture, make sure you are choosing things that you are able to hold for longer than 1 or 2 seconds. I’d say 80-90% of what you are doing, you will want to be able to hold for 5-10 seconds at a time, or a few rotations in the air. The remaining 10-20% can be for those things that might not be guaranteed shots due to how difficult they are to maintain, but that you really want to try getting regardless. What will be “easy to hold” will vary from person to person, so my recommendation would be to attend an Open Gym at your studio and play with static posing through some of your favorites for longer than normal to get a feel of what will be realistic in your shoot.
Also - photoshoots are not a time to be a hero, so to speak, so please be prepared to bring your own Firm Grip or Rosin, or make sure that your shooting venue will have some on site for you to use.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOU
Whenever a client tells me that ours is the first aerial shoot they’ve done, I feel a bit honored. Photoshoots can be a vulnerable, not to mention costly, experience, so choosing the right person to capture you is not something to be taken lightly. I am a firm believer that for every aerialist, there are more than a few stunning images to be captured. For me, the line of the aerialist is the absolute most important component of my photographs. Coming in second is my own lighting and composition. Crazy, right? My point is, make sure you are shooting with someone who is putting YOU first, and I highly recommend vetting your photographers before working with them. Take a look at their past work and ask yourself the following:
Have they worked with dancers/aerialists in the past?
Have they shot other forms of movement?
Are they comfortable shooting people beyond a typical portrait of the bust and head?
Am I comfortable with their editing style and technique? (VERY important, as this is what you are getting, ultimately!)
Come up with a list of questions and reach out to a few different photographers you are thinking of working with. You can even go one step further and arrange a phone call. Not only will this help you gauge who would be a good fit, but it will form the beginnings of a working relationship between you and will make you more comfortable day-of shoot.
COME UP WITH YOUR “WHY?”
There is literally no wrong answer here, but I think it’s a great idea to think of WHY you want your picture taken so you can get the most out of the experience. Maybe it’s because you want to start performing and need a “head shot,” or maybe you want to vary up the imagery you are posting on your social media, or maybe you want something that’s just for you that you can look back on every now and then when you want a reminder of how awesome you are. Your reason will give the shoot a greater sense of purpose which, in turn, will prevent you from questioning whether or not you are worthy enough to have your picture taken (you are).
What do you think? Was this helpful? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts. If you are someone who has already gone through a professional shoot, feel free to weigh in with some of your favorite tips for getting through your first shoot.
Until next time!