I looove me a pole dancing photo shoot, but the cost of them can really add up. Once you have reserved your slot, you then have to think about hair, makeup, outfits and possibly even extra training time to prep your poses.

After doing many pole photo shoots, I have come up with some pretty neat ways to create amazing photos without breaking the bank. These are simple tips and techniques that you can apply immediately to get more out of your photo shoots, and to help you get photos that you really love.

Tip #1: Prepare in Advance

There’s a little saying I use with my marketing and branding coaching clients, that when you want to do anything right you have to commit to spending at least one of two things – time or money. If you haven’t got money to spend on a project, then you will have to spend time instead. We simply can’t get the results we want if we are both cheap AND rushed.

pole dancing photo shoot tips

David J Harrison

There’s been a couple of times I’ve left planning a shoot too late, and I’ve ended up rushing to get an outfit together and choose my poses. In the end I might end up spending a lot more on an outfit that isn’t that great, and leaves me feeling deflated. As a result I have photos that aren’t as impressive as the ones that were well prepped.

If you have a shoot coming up in a few months, start thinking in the back of your mind what you want from the shoot so you can begin to keep an eye out for possible outfits, props or pictures to help inspire you for the day. When you are prepared, your shoot will also be more relaxed, and you will look more confident in your photos as a result.

For example, for one shoot with David J Harrison, I wanted to edit together two shots to create something fun and on-brand for my personal love of Disney. I gave myself plenty of time to find costume pieces to help me bring my Little Mermaid fantasy to life, and because I planned this in advance I knew that David was down to shoot this concept with me, and exactly what poses I wanted to do on the day. I was even able to borrow a big fork (sorry… dinglehopper) from a friend because I discussed my concept with them in advance and they had just to thing to enhance my photo. Preparation paid off and it is one of my favourite pole shots I’ve ever got!

Time and organisation are FREE, so use them to their fullest to help you get those killer shots you’re craving!

Tip #2: Colour Combos Can Transform a Shoot

If you haven’t got much money to splurge on a custom pole set, you can use simple items bought inexpensively from normal online and high street shops. One way to make a big impact with simple items is your choice of colours. If you know what colour your background is, then this can help you create some amazing images simply through some clever outfit choices.

Colour Wheel

If you look at the colour wheel, you can pick out complimentary colours by looking at what is opposite on the colour spectrum. For example, if you have a yellow background, then picking a purple outfit could help you stand out. Likewise, wearing green whilst against a pink background might sound like a bizarre choice, but I did exactly this on a recent shoot by adding a green wig and the photos came out great!

Other things you can consider is the type of ‘feel’ you want the image to have. Do you want it to be bold and in your face, or soft and delicate?  I did this in a shoot which had a grey background, and I wore a blush coloured bodysuit to match my rose gold pole heels. The effect came together to create something distinctly pastel and feminine.

Finally, one colour combination that I’ve done that came out looking out of this world was the same colour layered. Many people think you have to pair together opposing colours in order for an image to have bold impact, but I did a white on white shoot that ended up looking just dreamy! Think outside the box and you can grab attention in new ways.

I hope these photos can inspire you with some creative colour options you can use to make the most of your photo shoot without having to spend lots of money of custom outfits.

David J Harrison

Tip #3: Dress On a Budget

As I’ve already said, you don’t need to spend lots of money on outfits in order to look awesome in your pole photo shoot. There are many creative ways you can use your clothing to enhance your shoot, without it necessarily being the flashiest lingerie or pole set you can find.

Many times very simple outfits paired with creative poses can make a big impact. Look out for bodysuits in pretty cuts that will show off your favourite assets, or particular features such as cut outs that will compliment specific poses. For example, if you want to show of your leg hang, why not find a bodysuit that has a side cut out in the right spot for your waist grip?

You can find amazing ‘basics’ inexpensively if you spend some time shopping around online. You can do some amazing things with a bikini or bodysuit if you are willing to hunt around to find something you really like. It may not be an item you wear for your regular pole class, but for a photo shoot where you can adjust in between moves, you can get away with some pretty risque items. Although warning: some can be dangerously slim on the crotch coverage for a regular pole session LOL.

For example, I purchased a swimsuit (Alien image above) in a sale at J D Sport that isn’t necessarily suited for my regular teaching schedule, but worked out fab for this particular shot I was wanting to capture.

David J Harrison

If you have your heart set on a ‘proper’ pole set, look for bargains on Facebook groups such as Pole Dance Garage Sale to find people selling second-hand sets at discount prices.

Likewise, don’t be afraid to upcycle or DIY some basics to give them a new lease of life. Want to be a fabulous bird of paradise? Buy a simple leotard and transform it with sequins and feathers. Got an old set you’ve worn to death? Try sprucing it up with new accessories, or add a skirt by sewing some gorgeous tulle to the back. Have a look at costume pieces on Pinterest for inspiration.

I updated a very old, worn out pair of Pleaser boots for a final photo shoot. I had used them for a few years at the toe box was now completely dirty and busted. Using white spray paint, sharpies, and craft ribbon I gave them a quick makeover so they would compliment a rainbow bodysuit I had bought (pictured).

Tip #4: Create a Concept

I love to approach photo shoots like my own personal magazine spread or cosplay session. In another life I would have loved to be a creative director, and I use shoots as an outlet for this part of my creative drive.

Photo shoots with a strong character or concept can be incredibly effective without having to spend loads of money on the actual pieces. Approaching it this way helps me to pick out outfits more easily, and to choose the types of poses I want to showcase that will best suit the vision I have. Just wanting cute or sexy photos is completely fine too, but picking a theme can really help to inspire you if you’re feeling stuck.

My alien shoot was one of my favourites, and despite having a great visual impact, the items themselves (other than my pole shoes) were not that pricey. The glasses were £3, and the bodysuit was another sales item from J D Sport, which I think was about £6. The lilac wig I already owned, but I think I originally bought it for under £20.

In the same shoot, I also did a ‘Self- Love Hearts’ concept to capture my confidence ethos. I made the love hearts using card board, paper, and acrylic paint – it took time, but the pay off was photos which made me go ‘oooh’, and captured the attitude and message perfectly.

Think about the kind of story or character you want to capture in your image, and props or accessories you can use to enhance that. Just like I said at the beginning, if you haven’t got money to invest in crazy set pieces or costumes, then a bit of ingenuity and time will have to be made to bring these from your imagination into reality.

David J Harrison


Tip #5: Hair and Makeup

You don’t have to book in for professional hair and makeup to have amazing photos done. If you have a baseline knowledge of makeup application then watching YouTube tutorials or finding Pinterest inspiration can be great ways for you to be able to save money on paying someone else to do it for you.

In my shoots I usually do my own hair and makeup, and lots of practice over the years has definitely made this easier. However, there are some simple tips that everyone can apply.

The basics are:

  • Go a bit heavier than you think because photo shoot lighting can flatten you out.
  • Try finding SPF free products to avoid the flash bouncing off your skin too much.
  • Matte products are a good basic to go for as they won’t catch the light in any unusual ways.

Simple hairstyles look great in photos. Curl, straighten, braid or top knot your hair depending on the look you are going for. For bouncy hair with great volume, look up how to pin-curl your hair – I promise, it’s the best! If you are truly clueless about styling then why not try a wig for a fun way to add a new look to your shoot? Make sure you try out your poses in it first though!

Tip #6: Don’t Scrimp on the Photographer

This isn’t to say that ‘cheap’ photographers are going to provide you with photographs you aren’t happy with, but from my experience you do get what you pay for. If your photographer is charging under the industry standard, look at the level of editing expertise they are able to give you and the number of shots you get for that. It may be you are perfectly happy with what they offer, but it is better to go in knowing what to expect than end up disappointed.

I prefer to spend more money working with a great photographer, because I know that even if my outfit isn’t super expensive, they will capture my absolute best side. What is the use of possibly paying out big money for clothing, makeup and hair, only for the photos to come back looking flat or rushed?

In the short-term it may feel like a great budget saving trick, but long-term I adore the photos I’ve had done with photographers who offer a high level of 1) pole dance expertise, and 2) editing and attention to detail.

Likewise, the most expensive doesn’t always mean the best for YOU. Find photographers that offer a package you can afford, and the type of finish you are wanting for your photos.


There are some of my tips to help you get more out of your photo shoot, without necessarily breaking the bank. Remember: you don’t need to invest in brand new, expensive pole wear in order to look amazing in your shoot. Sometimes being a bit inventive and thinking outside the box can help you to create shots that are going to leave a big impression.

What was your favourite tip? Is there something you do to help you save money when prepping for your photo shoot? Let me know in the comments!

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