Trials & Tribulations of capturing those Pole Photos!

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Trials & tribulations of Pole Photography
So you’ve been to a few pole classes now and may want a few photos to share with friends and family and to capture your achievements. Great, Just grab a friend and a camera (or probably a phone these days), point and click… easy right?! Oh no no no…..
Well yeah, you could, but you’re more likely to end up with pole mishaps than pole marvel. Here are a few things to think about to try and get those fab pics you deserve in less time.

1) Make sure you’re ready!
Make sure you are comfortable and ready to hold the move you want a picture of for a decent time frame. Generally you’ll need to be able to SAFELY hold the move for more than a couple of seconds before being able to capture the moment on camera. It is fine to have your instructor or spotter in the picture if it’s a particularly tricky move that you’d like but still don’t feel 100% (possibly in the case of a workshop where you’d like the move to remember but haven’t had time to perfect it) but they shouldn’t be actually visibly holding you up in the picture, unless it’s a multi-person move. (Doubles, triples etc..) Also bear in mind you don’t have to be doing the most complicated move there is for it to look impressive, some of the simple moves look lovely as a picture, whilst the difficulty and effort of some of the harder ones just doesn’t come out on the other side of a lens.

2) It’s all about the angles!
If you are getting a non- pole friend to take the picture make sure you show them the angle it should be taken at, I’ve frequently seen people taking pictures so that you have no idea what move its supposed to be and it really doesn’t do the move (or your body) Justice. You end up with that awkward moment when you’re friend is really proud of herself for taking the picture and when you look at it you’re thinking… ‘Oh no, that totally doesn’t look like it’s supposed to.. I look awful!’ but instead you smile and say ‘Aw, that’s great thanks!’ Also try and suggest they stand a bit further back, you can always zoom in and crop on a photo to get closer but can’t zoom out any further than the original shot. This also applies to videos too, I remember when filming for a TV programme, when they’ve edited it they’ve zoomed in on my crotch for some bizarre reason and missed the move in its entirety (Total cringe). I think the move might have been a Cupid drop into Gemini… I remember being gutted because the whole combo was great and it really didn’t show the performance in a great light. And these were meant to be professionals. Don’t panic too much however about the fact you can ‘See the cellulite in my thighs’.. We all have body hang ups, but people will be more impressed you’re hanging upside down by one leg rather than anything else.

3) Check your background!
I’m sure we’ve all seen that unfortunate picture of the poor girl who posted her pole picture online and what seemed to be her pink dildo was sitting on the radiator! It was in fact a ballet slipper, but the press and online community had field day with it. I have to admit I have been guilty of this in the past, (not for leaving my sex toys laying around, but not checking my backdrop before excitedly posting pics on Facebook or Instagram) You don’t want the glory of your amazing move to be outshone by some busybody pointing out that your room is messy or that there are random items in the background stealing the limelight. Also watch out for mirrors.. they can be friend or foe. Used correctly they can reflect your good side to get 2 angle at once, but also picking up people and things not in direct line of the camera lens.

4) If you go Pro – Research your Professional!
There are lots of great professional photographers out there but not all of them specialize in the same themes and Pole is still a relatively new concept. If you’re going to spend your hard earned money on some nice shots make sure you get one that is familiar with the industry. Maybe use one that a pole friend or studio has used and you like the look of the photos they’ve done elsewhere. There have been some really creative and original ideas surfacing recently, take a look around and don’t feel pressured to make a choice you don’t feel comfortable with.

5) Relax and Smile!
Yep.. we’ve all seen that uncomfortable pain/concentration face we pull when trying to get into or hold a move. We’ve all done it, it’s a natural part of the process, but it’s not pretty. So ideally, on a photo immortalized for the world to see, we do not want to look like a panic stricken constipated monkey clinging onto a tree for dear life! I know the ‘Relax and smile’ comment is easier said than done, try and invoke ‘Serene Pole Goddess’… (Is there even a Goddess of pole? If not, why not? We should appoint one!) You don’t necessarily have to smile, you can go for the ‘Yay, I can’t believe I’m doing it!’ Excited/shocked face, or you can be silly and have a laugh- tongues out/thumbs up pose, or go for the ‘serious arty’ look. But the relaxed bit is the important part I feel. Whatever you choose is fine, you don’t even have to look at the camera to get a beautiful picture.

I hope this helps a little on your pole photo mission, but just on a little side note make sure you’re not spending too much time dedicated to just taking pictures of moves, and don’t just learn a move, take a picture and move on to the next. Enjoy your classes; listen to your instructors and peers. Make sure you spend time getting in and out of the moves correctly and learning how to transition nicely from one move to the next. It’s all well and good learning individual moves but if you can’t put them together you may regret it at a later date. Apart from that.. go forth, be proud of what you’re doing and capture those amazing accomplishments for the world to see!

Pole Love. xxx

(Ps if you would like to recommend any pole photographers feel free to comment)

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Be a Cool Pole Cat NOT Pole Catty! Retract those claws ladies! (And Gents)

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So I’m writing this Post today in light of recent unpleasant goings on in the online Pole Community which seems to have come to some sort of head at the moment. I have used extracts of my book in this as this is actually a topic I wrote about last year, so to be honest this negativity is by no means a new phenomenon, which makes me very sad, but some of the angles seemed to have changed and therefore maybe it needs to be addressed?
The primary arguments that seem to be surfacing are rows over names and teaching techniques, but the big Issues seem to be health and safety related.
Such issues are not cut and dried when it comes to solutions. There is much to pole dancing that simply cannot be put in a conventional straitjacket. This (our) calling is all about pushing boundaries, inventiveness and initiative. Matters pertaining to health and safety are, although necessary, sometimes felt to be restrictive to all the essential elements of pole dancing.
Some things are common sense and you would think one doesn’t need a formal Health and Safety instruction to apply them. There are certain things I do and don’t agree with. For example, I do not feel the need to have thick crash mats in place ALL the time but some studios insist on their being in place. YES, when you are starting on a demanding new move or inverts for the first time it is sensible to have a mat in place and a spotter attending. My view however, is that later as you progress the use of a mat brings with it a dependence that is restrictive to performance and gives a false sense of security.
A perfect example was when one of my students, who had been a performing a move perfectly well in my studio for years, went to another studio abroad. There, they would not allow her to train without the mat. The outcome was that she knocked and twisted her ankle on the edge of the mat when descending. As a direct consequence she was out of action for weeks. The road to ankle hell is paved with overzealous Health and Safety good intentions. Please don’t misunderstand my comments, the need for safe teaching and training is paramount when working with other peoples bodies, recently there has been a rise of Pole related muscular problems due to incorrect teaching techniques and grossly insufficient warming up. I have found areas such as the shoulders are particularly vulnerable. There is a very good ‘#Train safe, #pole safe, #teach safe’ campaign that’s well worth a look up.
I just feel that sometimes a ‘little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing’ if you’re doing things just out of repetition and imitation rather than understanding the real ‘Why? Or how?’ behind it.
Back in the online world I see people starting to feel fed up, it reached the point where I didn’t want to comment on some posts in forums or groups for fear of my reputation being tarnished by the ignorance of armchair critics. (I see many people saying this now, but this is how I felt over a year ago) Some of the girls and guys were being unjustly shot down over minor subjects or errors, whereas on the other side, well know Instructors were being severely attacked for trying to administer help and advice to fellow polers. This was no longer the family-friendly pole community I had nurtured and grown up with. I was disheartened by this. There were horror stories of ill run pole classes causing untold problems to students and damaging the hard work us primary polers had been striving to achieve.
The bitchiness reached an all time high, even peoples personal comments on their own pages were being pulled back into the Facebook groups. (I’ve seen it more in one particular group than the others) The newbie or self taught polers should take the advice from the more advanced members, (I was both of these at one point) I know criticism is hard to accept sometimes, you’re excited and want to show this and get a bit of acknowledgement & acceptance within the community, but quietly take the advice, it will help in the long run. DON’T get disheartened but DO seek professional guidence in the form of a few studio classes or official online classes (i’ve heard studio Veena to be highly recommended). However, Instructors need to realise that sometimes their well meant help and advice will not be taken gratefully. Think of it like a child.. many times a mother will say, ‘Don’t do that, you’ll fall!’ The child will, 9 times out of 10, keep doing it until they eventually fall. Sometimes they just need to learn and find things out for themselves, however frustrating it may seem. Also don’t criticize too much on the small things, their splits might not be perfect yet, but I’m sure they are already working on it, you were there one day too. Again Like children, if you are constantly criticizing the small stuff if will have less impact when you try and make a comment about something really important, and try and back it up with encouragement. Key rule when giving feedback. (Which I have seen many of you do). Part of the problem is wording, we have a need to express ourselves and be heard, but when we read a phrase or sentence you can’t hear how it’s said so can sometimes be misconstrued or taken totally out of context as to how it was meant. Please note I am talking generally here with this post, there are lots of different situations, I can’t say in each situation who was wrong and who was right, but at the end of the day, it shouldn’t be about that… it should be about us working together doing the thing we love the most. However, realistically speaking personalities still do, and always will, clash. Just because we have a common passion doesn’t mean we all have to be best friends but at least try and be polite human beings. On a plus note… at least we’ve moved away from the ‘Sporties V’s Sexy’s’ argument (Wink)…. Peace out people!

Love Pole, Keep Spinning!

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Pole dancing and pregnancy – MY personal experience.

It was mid 2008 and Pole classes were growing at a good rate, but that wasn’t the only thing expanding. In April I was to discover I was pregnant with my son, Valentino.
This was a little problematic. Pole dancing, let alone teaching the art, is not the sort of occupation you expect to find a pregnant mum taking part in. Where was I going to fit in? Fortunately, I had the full support of my husband, the girls and especially Emma. So I set my mind on all carrying on regardless.
As it was still early days in the world of pole dancing there wasn’t much research to do. After all, we were writing the rules for others to be influenced by. What is the saying? “Do not follow your dreams, lead them,” Yes, we were trailblazing pole dancing. I broached the subject with my doctor but pole dancing as a fitness regime was foreign to him. I don’t think he properly understood my concerns and he wasn’t much of a help. Just kept telling me to ‘Do lots of walking’ and try not to put on too much weight.
He did reassure me that both me and my baby were very healthy, there was no need for concern and to live life as normal as possible. Great if you are living a normal life. Pole dancing hardly qualifies for ‘normal’.
I neither smoked nor touched alcohol, I ate healthy so I did what everyone suggested I do. I listened to my body. Keeping up ‘as normal’ for the first six/seven months of pregnancy I then became acutely aware of a heaviness and my balance was a little off normal. Time to take stock, so I called it a day on the Handsprings, inverts and the more extreme movements. I was fine with the basics such as spins and perfectly up to it when instructing the students. I also kept doing some the floor based classes and stretching right until the end. Since then there have been plenty of stories, pictures and videos of pole dancing mums-to-be. There again, has been some outcry and controversy over it, but I have yet to hear of a negative outcome? (and I hope there are none) Please note, it is not recommended to start any new sport or fitness activity if you are already pregnant.
Valentino, bless him, arrived a few days late but fine and healthy. All went well with the birth. Well, as good as can be expected. At the time, the birth was still the most horrific and painful experience I had ever been called upon to endure. Although as they say… ‘You do forget’.
While I was in the early stages of labour I took a walk to see my friend Lisa who had coincidentally had her baby a day earlier and had not yet been discharged from the ward. When I asked her how it went she smiled brightly and said “Oh a bit painful but fine!”
She later apologised profusely for lying to me, but couldn’t bare to tell me the truth at that point.
The delivery took all of eight hours and all of it without any pain relief or stitches. And it was it worth it.
I brought our baby boy home on Christmas Eve. My gorgeous son was the best experience in my life and continues to be so. Did I do well? The midwife apparently thought so.“Wow, your flexibility is the best I have seen,” she said extravagantly whilst I had my legs spread in stirrup type holders. True Story! Not the most appropriate of remarks but I am sure she meant well. I did also note that my post labour/pregnancy recovery seemed to be a lot quicker than my non-poler friends that had had babies at the same time. Other than that, it is important to know, I am not qualified to offer advice to anyone who, whilst learning to pole dance or already practising the art, discovers they are pregnant. This is solely my personal story, everybody and every pregnancy is different. Please see your doctor, get professional advice, do some research and listen to your body.

Extract taken from ‘So, I hear you’re a pole dancer?’.

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New year, new reasons to try Pole classes… step outside the box!

I hope the majority of those reading this book will already be seriously interested in pole dancing, or at least be contemplating taking this dance-fitness lifestyle up. It could be that many if not most readers are already involved in this fascinating fun-filled and challenging modus vivendi.
There are so many advantages to taking up pole dancing. Use it or lose it, the human body needs to be agile for all its working parts to function in harmony. If you have a weight problem you will find your weight quickly drops as surplus weight is averse to pole dancing. Actually, I say ‘weight’, generally it’s more of a ‘body mass reduction’ you will see, as you’re body changes shape, less fat, more muscle. These advantages boost self-confidence. You will not become an egotist but you will find that your self esteem hits new peaks. Activities that were once an effort become far less demanding. You not only feel better, you look better. This new you radiates outwards and impress others. When going about your everyday tasks you will find you are better physically and mentally balanced. As well as a variety of other side effect benefits, Increased flexibility, strength, stamina, and generally a better, more lean and defined body shape.
You will be far better tuned to your immediate environment. The new you earns new friends, keep old ones, and makes life far more exhilarating.
Moving on, I want to explain the effects pole dancing or more importantly teaching the routine has had on me. Cast your minds back to when you first learnt to invert. Otherwise, picture the move that you have been working towards perfection for ages. Out of the blue you get it just the way you dreamed of doing. This is the ultimate ‘I DID IT!’ moment. It is then you get the tingling sensation, the adrenalin rush that creates that unmissable buzz. You experience a sense of achievement that is so memorable that it never totally drains away.
Let me assure you, your ecstasy radiates through me too and I share it because I have been there and I know exactly how you feel. I feel it because it is my achievement too. The delight on my students’ faces at the moment of truth is priceless to me. Given a little time I also get to see the transformation that comes over people. I get a rush too from witnessing success that I have partnered. This is just another reason why I love doing what I do and I’m sure other instructors can back me up on this. Over the years I have seen, felt and experienced the changes in students as they go from novice to blazing glory. I have seen students lose weight, watched as the body changes to a glowing radiance. I am often approached by shy, reserved girls who would never say or do anything to offend.
I have celebrated each girl’s restoration of her self-esteem. Such is the renewed confidence they have in themselves that, instead of being fearful or apprehensive about public displays of their skill, they welcome the opportunity to show off. Friendships to make and keep are much easier and much more natural. You don’t make a friend, you become one. The pole dancing lifestyle changes people for the better. I have heard and read on the various social media groups so many inspirational pole tales, how this vertical metal bar has helped girls out of depressions, gotten them over phobias, even helped fight battles against eating disorders. Other stories, such as that of Urban Poleist Danny Charge, who I will mention again later, where exercising on the pole acted as physiotherapy after a severe climbing accident left him near paralysed. If you have any such tales, feel free to post them to me, I always love to hear about them.
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