I want pole photos—what do I do now?
Congratulations! It takes courage to strip down and let someone take photos of you on the pole. But this is an investment of both time and money. Make sure you make some smart choices.
DO...Research photographers. Take a look at the pole photos in their portfolio. They may take lovely wedding pics, but pole is a different animal. Talk to them on the phone or in person. Make sure you like them and feel comfortable expressing yourself to them. If they don't listen to you or don't share your vision about what your photos will look like, take a hard pass.
DO...Try to book with a friend. Photo sessions typically last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. You will be exhausted by the end. Instead of booking one 15 minute session, try to book a half hour and share it with your pole buddy. It's the most efficient use of your time. While you are doing a costume change, she can be taking a few photos in her favorite pose. Then while she checks her list for the next move she wants to try, you can be getting a few shots in. Also, a good friend will help you grab your foot that is three inches out of reach, remove a piece of hair stuck in your lipstick, and tell you if your nipple happens to pop out of you top.
DON'T...Show up unprepared. By the time it is your turn you should be warmed up with grip aids already applied and with a list of moves in hand of what you want to accomplish. Make a Pinterest board, have a folder of pics on your phone, or bring a good old fashioned list written on paper. I once had a student arrive with stick figure drawings of every move she wanted to accomplish. It was hilarious and it got the job done.
What should I wear?
Sexy, athletic, romantic or slutty; this is your shoot and you should make it what you want. However...
DO...Stick with minimal changes for hair, makeup and costumes. This eats up time that could be spent on getting the shot you want. If you do want to change, start in your most complicated or layered outfit and strip down from there. Your makeup should be more dramatic than what you wear everyday. Photography lights can wash you out. Break out the contouring and red lipstick!
DO...Have a vision. Props and themes are great. They can help define the list of moves you want to do that day. Feeling like a naughty vixen? Boots, black latex, and a whip are perfect to pair with spreadies, splits, and booty poses. Want to show off how strong you have gotten? Maybe think about simple pole shorts and a sports bra that will highlight your muscles as you Ayesha, iron X, and flagpole. My favorite shoot happened when I decided to go for a sexy ringmaster look. It was very specific, a little weird, and I loved it!
Don't:...Wear clothes that will be too slick if you want to do aerial tricks (I'm looking at you, velvet and silk). Save those for your floor photos. Don't wear anything too sweat inducing at the beginning of your session (hard lesson learned in my vinyl catsuit). You will be too sweat-drenched to grip the pole after you take it off. And don't forget to have a dress rehearsal in your full outfit. Make sure you can plus sign in your new Pleasers or shoulder mount without your flowing skirt draping over your face.
What poses should I do?
The ones you like, duh!
DO...Only do poses that you can hold for at least four seconds. Do you remember your last selfie? How many tries did it take to get it just the way you wanted? The same goes for pole photo shoots. Don't expect the photographer to capture the pose you want on the first try. S/he needs to focus the camera, adjust angles and lighting, have you tilt your head the other way, and tuck in your bra strap.
Do...Use moves you know and love. Yes, you may have just learned the latest twisty, one point of contact power move invented by an Eastern European former ballerina, but chances are that you will not be comfortable enough in it to remember beautiful hands and feet, and you'll be making a face that is straight out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Remember your old pal Gemini and all his friendly variations? The simpler moves often photograph better. Try using one class before your session to practice potential moves and photograph them on your phone. You'll see what I mean.
Don't...Forget to add floor moves. Some of the best photos I've seen have been simple poses using the pole as a prop. Crawling on the floor in front of the pole, holding on in a squat with one leg extended, orleaning your shoulder on the pole with your back arched; Hot, hot hot! Pro tip: save these for the end when you are too exhausted to hold your more difficult poses.
What do I do with my hands/face/feet?
The eternal struggle.
Do...point your damn feet! You might try something angular and want fully flexed feet, but otherwise, point! Note, I did not say toes. If you just think toes, you'll get stumpy little fists at the end of your legs. Instead, imagine you are wearing your highest pair of heels, then extend your toes from there. Bam—you just added a couple of precious inches to those gams, lady!
Do...Keep your face relaxed. You should look blissful, ecstatic, or smoldering. You don't want to look like you are working hard or in excruciating pain (even though you are). Try scrunching up your face really hard and then letting go right before the shutter is clicked.
Don't...Pose like Hitler. Often we extend our arms to the point that we lock them out. But completely straight arms ending in tight and totally extended fingers means you look like a fascist Barbie. Instead, try relaxing your shoulders, reaching from the muscles in your back, and shaping your hands like you are holding a very delicate egg between your thumb and the second knuckle of your middle finger.
Lastly, here are some good and bad comparison photos from my fabulous photographer, Michelle. She's a genius and you should totally shoot with her if you are in SoCal.
Blending in with the background—bad. Fun, dramatic choices that pop—good!
Angles that foreshorten limbs—bad. Angles that take advantage of negative space and flattering profiles—good!
Angles that obscure your face and make you look like an amputee—bad. Getting to see your pretty mug and complete arms and legs—good!
Once again with the shortened limbs—bad. Crotch and cleavage shots—good!
In the end, this is your photo shoot. Remember why you came to pole and try to express it in your pictures. Happy poling!
Bio: Claudia has been poling for over 10 years and has been an instructor at Jayvee Dance Studio in Alhambra for 6 years. She loves her students - they inspire and motivate her and make her laugh every day. She trains at studios all over Los Angeles. instagram: lilkittychoi