Wednesday, September 4, 2013


   Most dancers leap at the chance to get on film. We love having our performances documented for posterity, and we always need great promotional shots to get our jobs, so that means we spend a lot of time schmoozing with photographers and videographers.  But in this wonderfully symbiotic relationship between the subject and the people behind the lens, there can be a few potential bumps in the road. 

 You know how sad and short-changed you feel when your name gets left off an event poster, or you aren’t mentioned in a show program?  Or when someone uses your image, but your name isn't on it?  It feels awful!

The sad truth is that dancers commit that very same sin against the people who take their pictures all the time, by neglecting to give credit to the photographer who created their image! Read any dance magazine, check out promotional post cards, show posters or just take a look on Facebook…and what you usually won’t see is a photo credit!

Like dancers, a good-or great-photographer has spent many years honing his or her craft; there are countless hours spent learning and perfecting skills, and a sizeable investment in lights, cameras and lenses, photo-editing programs and other equipment. Many photographers started out being talented and having an aptitude for what they do, but on top of this, a lot went took classes or went to college to perfect their craft.

Though you might not realize it, many photographers feel as under-paid as dancers do!  We negotiate prices for gigs that we think are fair...and we get bummed out when someone tries to negotiate our prices down.  We reason that our prices are set because we’ve sweated for years in dance classes and rehearsals spent a small fortune on costumes, and it also takes us a long time to get ready for our gigs. 

While you might feel like paying for your photos is expensive, look at it from the photographer’s view point: sweating for years in a photo lab before there was digital photography, spending an entire evening retouching just one image, and that's not even counting all the time and money it takes to book studio time, to set up lights and backdrops…or schlepping all that equipment to a location to do pictures!

 Like any artist, a photographer needs to be credited; just like dancers, photographers need that name recognition so they can get more clients; so people who like the photo will be able to seek out more of the photographer’s work. Giving a photo credit is  a simple professional courtesy, and it’s free – it costs you nothing to take a couple of minutes to do. And with compelling images going viral all over the internet on social media like Facebook and Tumblr and every other site, leaving a photo credit off is not just a disservice to the photographer, it’s practically a crime…so please, take a moment to remember to give credit where credit is due.

 The same goes for videos, especially if they are posted on YouTube.  Even if you paid to be filmed at a dance festival, it’s just considerate and polite to credit the videographer…who needs to work as much as you do…and who loves to be recognized for their art in the same way you do! The videographers who work at dance festivals are there for many hours at a stretch filming the entire show, not just your performance. They rarely even  get a  bathroom break, even if they have an assistant.

  Something else that I see all the time at dance festivals is people talking loudly around the video camera. These thoughtless individuals are often the ones who  are asking stupid questions of the videographer while he or she is working. While you might think that the camera just needs to be set up and sit there, that is far from the truth.  As the camera person works, they are checking contrast as the stage lights change, adjusting sound levels, zooming the focus  in or out, burning the videos onto CDs or putting them on flash-drives. They are probably also  doing the paperwork  for  all the people who didn’t take advantage of the offer to pre order their videos…something that makes life easier for everyone- the videographer and the client!  So please, save your questions for a break in the performance.

 And then there are  also those who like to dissect other dancer’s performances, blow-by-blow, right next to the camera! Even if something nice is being said, if it is being said too close to the video camera, the chatter will get picked up on the soundtrack, pretty much rendering the video un-useable.  At festivals, we all get just one chance to strut our stuff on stage, and imagine what you would feel like if another performer  ruined your video by talking all the way through it!  Whoever does this is being super disrespectful of the performer and  videographer as well. Don't be that  thoughtless person.

 Ok, I’m done with my rant…but pretty please with sugar on top of it remember that photographers and videographers are artists as well, and treat them with the same respect that you would any performer, because they deserve it!


  1. Hallelujah and AMEN to that!
    I'm a belly dance photographer and you have voiced my own thoughts beautifully. Thank you.

    I must add though that most of my customers are very good about giving credit. It means a lot to me because I do what I do because I'm as passionate about dance photography as most dancers are about dancing.

    Mark Hurd

  2. Princess,

    THANK YOU! As a belly dancer and a professional photographer - I have personally always striven to give credit for the photos that others have taken of me dancing. I want them to know I *love* the photo they have taken of me. :) I ask people to please give credit or to leave the watermark on - if you love your photos, let people know who took them! Its the best recommendation a photographer can get!

    Love, light and shimmies...
    Carrie Meyer
    The Dancers Eye Fine Bellydance Photography

  3. My hubby would slap the stupid right out of me if I treated a photographer so shabbily. He is responsible for most of our marketing pics. Photo and Video are our greatest tools for getting us "out there." Great article, Pleasant!

    1. Yes, w photos and videos are the best! A picture is worth a thousand words.... : )