What Does a Dance Portfolio with Drew look like?

I get asked all the time what shoots with me are actually like, so I made a video about it! I also transcribed the text, in case you’d prefer to read rather than watch a video, so that’s below.

I say this in the video, but if you have any questions, or if you’d like to book, shoot me an email!

This is the transcribed text from the video.

Hey, how’s it going, my name’s Drew, and today in this post I’m gonna be talking about how a dance photoshoot with me is structured, and how it’s broken down into different sections, so, let’s go.


I actually go into a lot more detail about this in another post here, and describe what you can do to prep for your shoot.


You’ve sent me an email, you’ve decided which package you’re going to go for, and you want to book.

At that point I’ll shoot you a contract, and what’s in there is basically is what you can expect from me, and what I expect from you. It outlines as well what happens in case we need to postpone your shoot, or if there’s an accident and you can no longer do your shoot, or I can no longer do your shoot.


You show up at the studio, and the first thing we’ll do is sit down, grab a cup of coffee and have a bit of a chat. We’ll figure out how your shoot is going to be structured, depending on what kind of outfits you’ve brought with you.

Broadly, I’ll shoot between four and five outfits, but some dancers only want to do two, others want to do ten – I try to accommodate as much as I can. After we’ve chosen your outfits and how we’re going to do the shoot, we’ll go straight into your headshots. I like to do headshots at the beginning of shoots, because I don’t want my dancers to be really sweaty and for their hair to be out of place! Also, it’ll give us a bit of an opportunity to have a chat, it’s quite a gentle start to a shoot too, because when we start with your body shots it can be a little more intense!!

After we’ve done your headshots, we’ll put some music on, crank up the volume, and go into your bodyshots. Generally there are two ways to approach your bodyshots:

  1. I’m happy for dancers to freestyle, where you’ll do a series of movements, and I might say ‘Okay, stop there, let’s see that section again, but in reverse’, or the same movement with your head to the side etc. It’s quite an informal way of shooting – I like it because it enables the dancer to express themselves quite freely.
  2. A more technical shoot. The other option is to come with a series of poses that you’d like to recreate, taken from others portfolios, Instagram, google, or wherever, and we can work through those.
  3. Or we can do a combination of both!

One thing to bear in mind is that doing a shoot is nothing like doing show. Do a shoot you might do the same movement 20, 30 or even 50 times, and of course you would probably never do that in a show!

We’ll keep going in one outfit until we’re both happy, then you’ll get changed into your next one. If there are any shots that you don’t like, then we’ll delete them.

You have to walk away from this shoot loving your images, and if you don’t love your images then I haven’t done my job properly. So, if there are any you don’t like / are no good – we’ll get rid of ‘em!

We’ll keep shooting right the way up to the end of the session, which could be four or even five hours. By the end of the shoot, every single shot is just amazing because you’re warmed up, we have a good working relationship, and we can get amazing shots!

Also, if you’d like to bring a friend, or a parent, or a choreographer to the shoot, that’s absolutely fine.

In terms of lighting styles, I’ll change that depending on your outfit. If you’d like to do a more ‘Chicago’ / Broadway type look, I can make the lighting more dramatic and a lot more like stage lighting, or if you’d like to do something very contemporary I’ll add in a lot more side lighting. Generally my shots tend to be quite bright as they are portfolio shots, however there is a lot of scope in there to create some really interesting and exciting images.


So we get to the end of your shoot, you’re happy, I’m happy, what happens now?

I’ll take the images from my camera, download them onto my laptop, and go through them and get rid of all the shots I think are no good. From there I’ll put them in what’s called a ‘Contact Sheet’, which will have all the shots in there with numbers underneath each one. I’ll email that straight to you, or your agent, or whoever is picking your images. All you have to do is pick the number of images included in your package eg. Ten. Once you have your ten preferred shots, send the list of numbers back to me, and I’ll get them edited and sent out to you.

When I send them in that initial contact sheet they will be straight from the camera, so they might have stuff in the background like lights, or marks on the floor, or stray hairs covering your face, that kind of thing. I’ll get rid of all that kind of thing. Maybe adjust the colours and the contrast, but that’s basically it.

I don’t tend to do a lot of editing on my dance images because if you have a tattoo in real life and you send an agent a photograph of you without your tattoo, when you show up at your audition you’re going to look like an idiot.

Once I get them edited (that can usually take up to two weeks), I’ll send them out to you, and they’re yours! I’ll send them to you however you’d like them eg. Email, Dropbox, Google Drive.

And that’s it!

I hope this helps to shed some light on what a portfolio shoot actually entails – it’s pretty straightforward!

Every shoot is unique to every dancer, but broadly, that’s how I tend to structure my shoots.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions then feel free to shoot me an email (drew@drewforsyth.com), I hope you found this helpful!