A checklist for a Pole and Aerial shoot

Having completed quite a few pole and aerial shoots now I thought I’d give you - prospective clients - a photographer’s view of the ideal preparations you can make beforehand. These will help the shoot go as smoothly as possible and will ensure you get great looking photos at the end, because the more we both enjoy the experience the better the result.

Most studio owners hosting a shoot will have done photo shoots many times before; always ask them for tips. They are invariably a mine of really useful information. Most of them will publish some guidance for those new to photo shoots beforehand anyway. As regards what poses and moves you do they can advise far better than I can, but with regards to what makes a good photograph, hopefully I can add some value. So, with that in mind, here are a few ideal ‘dos and don’ts’:


1. Plan the moves/poses you’re going to do beforehand and make sure you can do them well. If you can only do a move once or you’re not sure you can easily repeat, it take it out of your plan. If you can bring a picture (on your phone is ideal) that you can show me, we’ll be able to get the best from every shot.

2. Plan simple moves. The simpler the better. I’ve lost count of clients who have tried ambitious moves and not been able to hold them, who we move on to floor poses for a rest and then who end up liking the simple ones best. That said, your nemesis move might however be one you really want to capture. So, if you can hold it/repeat it and if you’re OK with the strain and some pulled skin showing in the photos to prove your athletic prowess, then that’s great and we can do it. Where we run into problems though, is people who want to do their ninja move but look like they’re doing nothing more taxing than having a cocktail on holiday. I’m afraid that almost never works.

3. Hydrate and eat properly before the shoot. Have energy in the bank. Trying to ‘look skinny’ and tiring really quickly doesn’t help anyone, least of all you.

4. Be prepared for a wait between poses. I need to know what you’re going to do beforehand so I can move lights around, stand on a ladder or whatever, to get the best shot. And I’ll probably ask you to repeat it!

5. Plan your wardrobe carefully. Really, really, really carefully. The backdrop colour will be known before the shoot so make sure you don’t clash (unless you want to of course). Wear the right colours for you and the backdrop. If wearing black ALWAYS make sure its isn’t black cotton or completely matt; those fabrics suck light and look completely flat on camera. If wearing darker shades or black, make sure the fabric has a bit of sheen (so for black think black lycra rather than elasticated cotton).

6. Underwear! Wear the minimum of underwear you can and observe the normal rules about VPLs etc. The ‘cleaner’ a shot the better the end result will be; four pairs of pants means four pairs of panty lines! Aerialists this means YOU! ;-) Also see don’ts 1 and 2 for more on this.

7. Please remember I have a professional reputation to uphold. That sounds a bit heavy but what I mean is this relies upon you having great looking photographs from our shoot, recommending me to other people and coming back again. If I can’t guarantee that the end photo will be good when I look at the proofs ie if you’ve had a wardrobe malfunction or you’re straining to hold a pose and it shows (unless you’re happy with that), I won’t give you the photo to select.

8. I will normally get the ‘raw’ photos to you from which to make your final selection 2-3 weeks after the shoot. I will give you 2 weeks to make your selections (I know it can be tough) and I will ask you to make sure you do the following:

a. ‘Like’ your chosen photos (and only your chosen photos) in the folder I share.

b. Email me telling me the amount of photos you have liked and their file numbers (not their sequential numbers in the folder as this will change). I will email exact instructions with the raw edits but we can save time early which means you get your final edits more quickly.

c. Unless I tell you otherwise, final edits will take 12-16 weeks from the end of the 2 week selection period. I’m afraid emails ‘wondering’ when they might be ready won’t get a date in response, as this isn’t fair on other people.

9. Bring a chaperone to the shoot by all means. But if they’re experienced in your discipline please ask them not to interject with advice. We will always have an insured instructor on hand and the instructor’s word is final. This is a safety and insurance issue and I’m afraid is not negotiable.

10. Please acquaint yourself with my work here on my website (hopefully you will have seen it or you wouldn’t have come to me!) Know my style. I don’t photoshop to death. What you’re doing; being an athlete and having the courage to do your discipline in front of the camera is no small thing. So I want you to look like you, and above all BE PROUD OF BEING YOU. I believe in body positivity and apart from removing badly-pulled skin (polers that’s you!) I won’t be changing how you look.

11. Above all, ENJOY the shoot. I will do my best to make it enjoyable and want it above all to be a positive experience; it’s not just about the photos.

Right, we’ve got to cover a few don’ts. They’re easy and believe me, avoiding them will make the experience much more enjoyable.


1. DON’T wear underwear that is bigger that the clothing on top!! And it should remain hidden when you’re stretched into position in silks, up a pole or in a hoop. Don’t wear poorly-fitting underwear or clothes. Clothes that you have to keep together with safety pins when you’re standing on the floor will fail, trust me. If that’s the case then wear something else. Photos that show 4 buttocks or breasts due to poor underwear fit and choice are nearly impossible to edit out cleanly. And doing so takes a REALLY long time, risking delaying everyone’s photos.

2. Don’t think; ‘well it’s ok, he can photoshop that out’. Photoshop can do many things but a heavily photoshopped photo looks like a heavily photoshopped photo. The more we get right on the day the better the end result, please believe me.

3. PLEASE don’t turn up hung over. Feeling off kilter will affect both your performance and the photos and if I or the instructor on hand have any concerns about safety I simply won’t continue.

4. Don’t expect me or the on-hand instructor to tell you what poses to do. You need to come with a plan. As a general rule if it’s a 5 edit shoot, then have 10 poses to do.

After the Shoot

1. I’ll send you proofs to select the edits you want within 2-3 weeks after the shoot. I’ll ask you to ‘like’ the images you want, to give me the file numbers and the total number of edits you want. That last bit is just so we’re all on the same page and there’s no confusion about the extra being paid for edits above those included in the price. I’ll normally set a 2 week deadline on your choices.

2. Final edits will be done 12-16 weeks later.

3. When I send you the Dropbox link to you final edits I’ll ask you to download them as soon as you can and I’ll delete the folder after a week. This enables me to manage my Dropbox files better.

4. When you repost photos I’d be really grateful if you’d tag me/mention me as the photographer (but you don’t have to). FB and IG can darken photos slightly so by all means tweak the exposure to get it back to its original state. But I’d ask for no crazy filters please or ‘additions’ (Snapchat cat ears etc!) please.

Right that’s enough! Please take note of these do’s and don’ts and the shoot should go well! Remember, enjoy it and if you have any questions please ask at ben@benripleyphoto.com.