Tips and Techniques for High-Volume Dance Photographers to Monetize Your Work

October 6th, 2023
modern dancers in costumes, one of whom is leaping across the stage

Whether you’re a dance enthusiast who snaps photos at exhibitions and competitions, a dance school parent who proudly captures your kid’s progress at performances, or an experienced photographer looking for new avenues to grow your business–dance photography can become a significant revenue stream for you.

The landscape of dance photography is very broad, with plenty of opportunities for a photographer to diversify and specialize in various niches. Some of these include:

  • Performances: Action-oriented photographers can focus on capturing the fluid moves and extravagant costumes that accompany recitals and performances of all kinds, from ballroom to hip-hop to ballet.
  • Portraits: Dance hobbyists, amateurs and professionals alike present a market for portraits. Whether staged in a studio or in a performance environment, dancers need headshots for auditions, as well as artistic and creative portraiture flaunting their best moves.
  • Dance Schools: Combining aspects of both performance and portraits, private dance schools and dance departments at educational schools offer income streams for high-volume photographers, including individual and group portraiture in addition to action shots of rehearsals and performances for their clients, websites, and social media.

Also, think about other market opportunities for photography that are somewhat associated with dance–gymnastics schools and competitions, high school dance teams and cheerleading squads. Parents, families, and friends are eager to buy photos that capture the perfect pirouette, tumble or acrobatic leap at these events.

Let’s take a closer look at how photographers looking into expanded revenue streams can make their mark as a dance photographer. Zenfolio offers advanced tools and workflows designed to help high-volume photographers more easily generate income and make clients happy while you spend more time behind the camera.

female dancers wearing flowing white skirts performing dance called “Undamely” at Battery Dance festival

How to choreograph your dance photography business.

Many photographers struggle to divide their time between shooting, editing, and the tasks of running a business, and to be successful at all of these. That’s where Zenfolio steps in as your ecommerce partner. Zenfolio invested millions of dollars, with the help of our developers, feedback from photographers like you,  and our years of experience, to build an advanced technology platform that makes it easier for you to build your business.

The Zenfolio suite of ecommerce tools empowers dance photographers to sell their art directly to clients in a smooth, streamlined workflow. Many aspects of the selling process after a shoot are automated and require little or no extra effort on the part of the photographer in order to get selected downloads, prints, and photo products into the hands of your clients.

Opportunities abound for selling a variety of products directly to your dance clients from your own online store–no third-party or outside resources diverting clients out of your photography business domain and sales flow. You set up and customize your online store within your website, set prices, and have the option for auto-fulfillment and direct delivery of products, including:

  • Digital downloads of photos
  • Photographic prints 
  • Fine Art prints with canvas and aluminum options
  • Photo products like mugs, magnets, buttons, and keychains 
  • Holiday greeting cards

Zenfolio simplifies the process of setting up an online storefront and managing sales transactions with a user-friendly interface and technology tools that make the more complex parts of ecommerce easier. Gallery settings for digital downloads of photos or videos can even be turned into gallery presets and linked to BookMe services, simplifying the delivery of prepaid products to clients. Here are some more Zenfolio resources and solutions that help you streamline the process of serving and selling to your dance photography clients.

BookMe Scheduling: Eliminate back-and-forth emails and phone calls to schedule clients. BookMe syncs with your calendar so clients can instantly see your availability, session types, and packages you offer. Clients can even make full or partial payment at the time of booking.

Shareable Client Galleries: When a booking is set, a client gallery is automatically created behind the scenes. When you upload dance photos or videos to a client gallery, they can proof, comment, share, and order directly from the gallery. You control gallery access and security with custom presets.

Online Store: Set your own prices or use Smart Pricing to make recommendations based on your local market. Preview the shopping experience to understand what your clients will see when viewing their photos. Accept popular payment methods like Apple Pay, Google Pay, credit cards, and PayPal. 

Auto or Self-Fulfillment: To make it even easier, Zenfolio has partnered with high quality print labs. So when your clients are ready to order their dance photography images, the order is sent to the lab for production and then shipped directly to your clients; A completely hands-free process. Alternatively, choose self-fulfillment to manage the process and delivery with local or national labs where you’ve already established a print relationship, including custom items like USB’s.

Advanced Technology Tools: Save tons of time on tasks like image grouping and culling with, finding faces in a crowd with People Filter, automated seasonal marketing with Client Campaigns and more Zenfolio solutions.

male dancer performing street style moves in front of two blue wooden doors

Strategies for pricing dance photography packages.

How do you price capturing a photo of the perfect pirouette? The possibilities and combinations are as endless as those for choreographing a modern dance. Let’s start with the type of dance events and photography that clients want. Portraits often require a different pricing structure than dance events, as determined by studio versus on-location settings, and all the considerations that apply.

For dance competitions, events, and exhibitions, photographers will need to prepare to travel to the location and bring all the appropriate gear. Factor in costs like travel, hiring assistants, and having extra or redundant supplies of essentials, such as batteries, cables, memory cards, and storage drives. The last thing you need is to miss a crucial part of an event while running around town looking for these items.

Are you charging a blanket session fee to cover a dance performance or competition that might come in the form of a day rate or event rate? Maybe you will be taking roster headshots or portraits of dancers participating in a recital and you charge by person. Or if you are starting out, you could decide to cover a performance on your own time and provide QR codes at the event to earn income just from selling downloads, prints and photo products to dancers and their families. Unless you are experienced in how to price photography for dance events, you might need to try different approaches and see what is most effective for you and your target market.

Once you have gained a reputation as a proven, skilled dance photographer, you can obviously choose to price your qualifications and photo or video deliverables accordingly. Dance photography pros with an established portfolio and following can charge a premium. Photographers with the overhead of a studio or staff will likely price their services higher than somebody just getting started in the dance world. 

However you choose to charge dance photography clients, be sure to clearly and effectively communicate pricing and demonstrate your value. Zenfolio gives you options for creating your own pricing packages that can even be picked and paid for by clients at the time of booking. Create services and packages to book multiple clients at a single event. Zenfolio client marketing campaigns give you an automated approach to set promos or discount codes for a particular dance “season” and reach out to clients in your mailing lists without you lifting a finger.

female flamenco dancer posing in fit and flare floral dress

Selling your dance photography.

Photographers specializing in any genre have lots of technology options in the world to choose from. You can set up your website with one resource, use a separate resource for photo or video storage, sharing and downloading, and yet another platform for online selling. That requires juggling multiple subscriptions, various hardware and technology requirements, and figuring out how to let your dance photography clients know which resource to go to for viewing, sharing and buying photos or videos.

Zenfolio offers a single, streamlined solution that is designed from the ground up to not only make doing business easier for dance photographers, but also making your clients happy to do business with you. By keeping all end-to-end functions of a photography business on one integrated platform, dance photographers can more easily and efficiently manage each process while keeping clients in one branded environment.

Dance photographers can create beautiful online portfolios to showcase your work, attract new clients with effective search-engine optimization, and social media integration with platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Dance photography clients enjoy the simplicity and convenience of all they need in one place; booking you, having their own private gallery to proof, comment, share and even purchase in one spot, while also accessing downloads or receiving orders via direct delivery from labs. 

Photographers have control of every aspect of the process, from setting access and permissions in client galleries, watermarks, online store pricing and payment methods, and deciding whether to use order approval before fulfillment. You also have the ability to get various reports and data, such as client gallery views and activity, website metrics and revenue reports.

As a dance photographer with a lot of clients and shoots to manage, the suite of tools included in Zenfolio online portfolio websites will help you keep clicking the shutter while much of your business runs itself. Your clients will do a happy dance as they discover the ease of working with you while they easily glide through booking, payment, proofing and delivery. Keeping clients happy means they are likely to partner with you again and again over the years.


  • Cheryl Dell'Osso

    Cheryl is the Director of Content Strategy at Zenfolio and the Owner/Photographer at Portraits by Cheryl and Seniors by Cheryl in Raleigh, NC. Cheryl has mentored countless new photographers looking to build successful photography businesses.

*Promotion valid until December 15, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Promotional discount off the subscription price of a new Portfolio, PortfolioPlus or ProSuite annual plan will be automatically applied at checkout with code ZENFOLIOSALE. Discount applies to the first year only. Cannot be combined with any other promotion.

Create your photography website in minutes.