MODELING FOR BELLYDANCE PHOTO SHOOTS: GUEST POST BY ANSUYA!
Modeling for Bellydance Photo Shoots
My modeling journey began at the age of 8 years old when I first enrolled in Le Mannequinette modeling school in Ventura, CA. There, I learned to walk the runway. I loved it so much I was given the “Model with The Best Attitude” award at the end of the session. I was then accepted into the LA Belle Modeling Agency in Santa Barbara, Ca where I learned to pose for the camera and then went on to shoot with popular local photography artists. From there I entered my local hometown pageant and won Miss Teen Ojai 1989 using runway, dancing, and interview skills. It was then that my mother decided we should try living in Hawaii, which was rich with local modeling opportunities as well as being a gateway into the Japan Bellydance market, perfect for a model of my petite height. In Hawaii I was accepted into the Amos Kotomori agency, worked a few local print jobs and then went on two spend two months living in Tokyo Japan represented by the Yoshie Modeling Agency. While there I was able to work for Shiseido. Little did I know I would be back to Tokyo almost a dozen more times as a Bellydance artist.
Modeling Meets Bellydance
On my last trip to Japan in 2014, I was able to combine my passion for Bellydance and modeling in a landmark shoot for Japan Bellydance Magazine. It was an honor to shoot with the amazing photographer, “Nam” and to be interviewed by the magazine about my modeling skills specifically relative to Bellydance. It was a full circle moment for sure. Since my early modeling days, I have found myself called upon to model in my Bellydance career for a multitude of fantastically creative reasons. From modeling for press, marketing campaigns, CD and DVD covers, and costuming lines, having these two words meet is the highest experience I feel you can have as a model. With complete freedom to celebrate ones shape, size, and personality, modeling for Bellydance photo shoots can be a wondrous experience of empowerment.
Sharing My Secrets
With modeling being a key component in maintaining a successful Bellydance career, I’d like to share with you some behind the scenes facts that you should know so you can start building your confidence for modeling for Bellydance photo shoots.
First, let’s talk photography, lighting, and photo retouching. How these elements are used can make or break whether you come away from your shoot with photos you can use. A talented photographer can make you look like a million bucks with the right shooting angles and lighting design. But, even if you are working with a talented photographer, be prepared to see lots and lots of photos that you will reject before you find one that you will use. Try not to be traumatized by this process. The fact is angles, lenses, and lights can also distort your image drastically, leaving you with an impression that doesn’t match reality and you want to be brave enough to sort through stacks of images like that so that you can find the shot that is the winner. Retouching can work wonders to bring some images closer to reality. Beware of too much retouching but also beware not to cheat yourself out of using it for proper effect.
Finding a photographer you trust can be key in getting into the zone as you are modeling. But be prepared to get into the zone regardless. Find an inner space of expressive emotion just like you would in dance. Your eyes will be the windows to your soul. If you are feeling something in the photo, those that look at it will too. Try playing music that moves you during your photo shoot – I always do!
Tap into professional chemistry with your photographer. Tune into the energy of being observed for the beauty you are creating and allow it to motivate you artistically. Feel free to be creative with your make up and costuming. You are not bound by a show at this moment, so think high fashion and graphic design. This will bring out even more personality from you as you model. Have fun and let the model within you come out to play!
My favorite way to shoot is to flow through my Bellydance movements in slow motion, freezing at moments that feel right to me and/or my photographer, and then going back to my flow. Using my stances and arm frames to support and frame my flow provides a backbone for endless creative variety.
Applying the above process to the floor, to furniture, or using props can infuse added flare to your shoot!
Learn My Tricks
Learn my vocabulary of stances, arm frames, and angles and use them to create poses unique to you for your next Bellydance photo shoot! This class plus tons more is available at Online Bellydance Classes at Ansuya.com!
Thank you Ansuya!!! <3 <3 <3