8 Free Ways to Build Your Fire Dancing Photo Portfolio

Posted on August 6, 2014 by


Fire Dancing Photography

Artist: GlitterGirl Photo: Fototaker Tony

One question I get regularly from folks is this:

I’m new to performing and can’t afford a photo shoot. I want to look professional on my web site so how do I get high quality images with which to market myself?

It’s a great question because a photo really can make the difference between something that is “meh” and something that sizzles. For your reference, we’ve sprinkled a series of photos from different photographers from the same photo shoot on this page so you can appreciate that not all photographers focus on the same thing. This will be very helpful when creating your portfolio.

Fire Dancing Photography

Artist: GlitterGirl
Photo: Anthony Lee

Here’s a few ideas to get you started on your way to building a fabulous virtual representation of yourself in still photography.

First, before you even get started, consider what look or looks you want to portray in your photos. This includes costumes and how they will light in the photos as well as makeup and yes, makeup is something for even the guys to consider. Assuming you’ve considered all that and you’re prepared for a photo shoot, here’s some other factors to consider.

sephoto imaging

Artist: GlitterGirl Photo: SE Photography Imaging

Types of photos:

  • mostly still shots that capture your face and the fire
  • shots in motion that capture fire or light trails that are inspiring
  • shots that capture geometry and the shapes we can paint in the sky with our props

Each of these types of shots has it’s place and all are valuable in different contexts. As you look at the samples on this page, you’ll notice different photographers adopted different framing for shots that were similar. Please note, all photos are presented as the photographer presented them and not retouched. You can see that different photographers have different quality of color and light in their photos which also shows up in your re-presentation of yourself, which becomes a part of the overall consideration even as you’re looking at the franking aspect.

Consider that face shots with the fire can be used and an unorthodox head shot which will have you stand out a bit from those without fire. In contrast, geometry shots are better for impressing people who have seen fire dancing or postcards. When creating your portfolio and working with the photographers to create your shoot, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of the types of shots and locations where you will be shooting. This likely will take more than one shoot and perhaps even more than one location.

Fire Dancing Photography

Artist: GlitterGirl
Photo: Unknown

We’ve been asked if there is value in creating a portfolio that uses an array of costumes to which we say a resounding yes. A “uniform” that remains the same and is present in all pictures will eventually look stale and old, as if the artists wearing them are the “same old thing” wearing “the same old costume” for anyone really paying attention through time. If you want to stay on top of your game and keep up with what’s going on in the industry, that includes updating your look through time — just as you would invest in new skills with which to perform.

Fire Dancing Photography

Artists: (Left to Right): Sarah Starlight, Jeff Medinas, GlitterGirl
Photo: Jason Braun

That said, it may not be worth it to try to do a single photos shoot with 18 costumes changes, though a moderate amount of re-wardrobing may be in your best interest. Plan ahead and consider which attire will complement which type of photos best.

Meanwhile, the most important parts are yet to come. First there’s finding a photographer and then there’s running your photo shoot. We have a live presentation of the Get Lit workshop available on line covering important concepts as related to running your photo shoot. Meanwhile, here’s what to do for photos.

Fire Dancing Photography

Artist: GlitterGirl
Photo: Ida Gambon

Fire Dancing Photography

Artist: GlitterGirl
Photographer: Waldemar Horwat

If you’re want a low cost means of acquiring photos — as in free — you’ll want to set up a TFT with photographers and get it in writing in advance. TFT == time for trade — your time as models for their photos with both sides agreeing (in writing, in advance) that neither side will use the photos for for profit commercial purposes and both parties can use the photos for non profit purposes. The trick may be finding a skilled enough photographer who can take quality photos that also is willing to work in the TFT framework. Here’s a few places to look:

  • Craigstlist.org in your city may very well have listings for photographers looking for TFT. You can also post there yourself with some success.
  • Search Flickr.com for photographers with fire photos and maybe hit up one of those near you regionally (if you can find one that is).
  • Local colleges generally have photography classes where they will need models. They may even want to run a special class focusing on low lighting photos and guess what’s perfect for that? Yes, you guessed it: both LED and fire photography.
  • Local photography stores that run workshops may also want to run low lighting workshops where photographers can work hands on with their cameras with specialists around and may always want interesting subjects like you to help them out. Opportunities like this may even offer some small stipend to appear, so be sure to ask. Even if they aren’t planning a low lighting workshop, this is your opportunity to suggest one and perhaps even create an opportunity for you to be a key presenter at the workshop, perhaps even for a revenue share.
  • Fire Dancing Photography

    Artist: GlitterGirl
    Photo: David Yu

    Run a local fire jam to which you invite photographers. Check Flickr and other local groups to find people who may be interested in attending.

  • Ask within your social networks — you never know who is looking to do the next cool project in high school or college or even a photographer looking to expand their portfolio may have interest in something like this.
  • Check Facebook for local photographer groups and see if you can find someone willing to co-create with you.
  • Fire Dancing Photography

    Artist: GlitterGirl
    Photo: DigitalShe

    Get on Meetup.com,  find local photographer meetups near you, hit up the head of the meetup group and ask them if they’d be interested in collaborating on doing an extended exposure/limited light photoshoot where you are the featured models. Undeniable, evidenced by the photos on this page, all of which were organized through a Meetup, this method works and can work well.

Remember to make sure you’re dressed up and have makeup on and make sure you’ve gotten clear with them on what you want, including some head shots where you can capture your face and fire all at once.  It’s important for you to ask them for what you want — they aren’t mind readers and every photographer has a different vision of how things look behind the lens. Some will focus more on lighting, some on the fire trails, some on both.

One final thing to consider is how you credit the photographers with the photos you use — be it a caption on your blog, a tag on Facebook or nothing at all, consider that what goes around comes around. Sometimes a frank conversation up front will set the expectation for both parties and you can co-create an agreement that serves you both.

If you’re ready for private instruction, want to try Zero to Fire in 4 Hours!, want to join our next beginner class or have other questions, contact GlitterGirl directly or subscribe to our newsletter for mailbox delivery of this and other articles written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you seek professional guidance associated with creating a safe performance, obtaining a permit in San Francisco or other personalized coaching, contact GlitterGirl directly for a free consultation (GlitterGirl <that pretty little ‘at’ symbol> TempleOfPoi <daaaaaaaught> com).