Tips for Taking and Using Dance Product Photos to Wow Shoppers

As omnichannel selling becomes the norm, here’s how dance retailers can make a great impression online with clear and vivid photography.

young girl with arms raised, blond hair, sleeveless leotard with yellow, green and red circle pattern
The simple white backdrop of this shot puts all the attention on the leotard. Courtesy of Nathalie & Co

Great dance product photos are one of the most important tools in your kit when it comes to any online sales channels your business uses. In the store, customers are free to inspect garments from all angles, feel the fabric and test their options out before deciding on the one to bring home. When shopping online, customers rely on your product photos to show them how a leotard or shoe looks—and to help them imagine it in their own lives. Whether you share professional images or snap photos with your cell phone, here are some tips for making your visual content shine.  

Partner With a Photographer

Make the ask, says Nathalie Velasquez, owner of Nathalie & Co. Dancewear | Swimwear | Activewear in Phoenix, AZ. “I partner with local photographers,” she says. “We trade leads with each other. I give her so much business, she gives me so much. If you let it be known that you’re looking for photos, it’s a lot easier than you’d think.” 

Crystal Bogorae, owner of The Barre Room in Uniontown, PA, has a yearlong contract with a local photographer for monthly photo shoots that take place in her store. The photography business also has a social media service that takes care of scheduling and posting social media content for the store. Looking for a similar service in your area? “Put it out there,” she says. “Ask a local photographer if they would be willing to do this for you.”

Feature Local Dancers

Three customers of Nathalie & Co. doubling as models. Courtesy of Nathalie & Co.

Rely on your customers when it comes to finding models for your product and lifestyle photos. “It’s very important to use local dancers,” says Bogorae. “We post the photos on Facebook and include a link to our website. A mom is likely to share photos of her daughter, and more people will see it.” 

What’s more, featuring a familiar face makes the image more relatable to customers and easier for them to envision an outfit fitting into their own lives. “Everyone likes seeing someone they know,” adds Velasquez.

Bogorae says that she’s constantly being asked by customers and their parents about being featured in an upcoming shoot. She keeps a running list of those who are interested, or sometimes she selects that month’s top customer to be featured. At the end of the month, the store shares a special post dedicated to that month’s model, thanking them for their support. 

Show Off Your Store

Crystal Bogorae, working with a customer at The Barre Room. Pointe shoes are just part of the message in this website photo. Friendly service is the other. Courtesy of Crystal Bogorae.

It’s important to create photos that invite customers into the store. “Make your store look enticing,” says Bogorae. “You want people to come in and shop.” The website for The Barre Room features vivid images of the store’s displays and shoe-fitting area that show dancers trying on shoes and posing in the dressing rooms, which are painted with bold black and white stars. Including people in the photos helps to bring the shopping experience to life for those viewing the site.

Use Your Phone Like a Pro

two T-shirts saying Mama Bunny, in white, and Baby Bunny, in pink, with pink tulips
A flat lay image of Mommy & Me shirts at Nathalie & Co. appears in the product pages on the store’s website. Courtesy of Nathalie & Co.

It is possible to take high-quality photos with your cell phone. For best results, Velasquez recommends creating flat lays and using a phone with a 4K camera. Choose a unifying background for all your shots. You can manually edit the photos directly on your phone to clean them up or add a filter that’s in line with your branding. Take photos near a window with natural light, or invest in a lightbox that will help you control the environment. Taking images on models? A tripod and a ring light are two other great tools that you can use to help create more professional looking imagery. 

Use a Brand’s Product Shots

While Velasquez features images of her store on her site’s home page and on social media, she uses a lot of vendor-provided product images for her listings. This is an easy and free way to get high-quality photography. The downside is that the photos won’t all have the same look, which takes away from the aesthetic coherence of your website. One tip: Be sure to format all of the images the same size—Shopify typically recommends 2,048-by-2,048 pixels—to keep your galleries more cohesive. 

Libby Basile writes frequently on visual merchandising, retail strategy and store design. She’s a former editor of Dance Retailer News.