636 Photos

The Pole Gym City Battle Heats - Review

written by William Brown on 2018-08-20

I had the exciting job of being one of the two photographers for the Brisbane City Pole Gym's Battle Heats - a friendly competition for the Pole Gym students to qualify for the Inter-Studio Battle competition.

After any event like this it's valuable to review what went well and what needs improvement. Photography is like any creative work, a process of continual refinement and improvement.

What do I look for in a photo?

It's important to note that picking up the camera is probably the easiest part of an event like this. When taking photos there are many factors. At any time while taking photos at an event like this, there is a lot going through the mind of the photographers.

By applying so much thought, we hope to capture images like this when the moment presents:


The good

Shooting JPG

This was my first major event shooting only JPG - not RAW. I'm really happy with how the colours came out in most of the photos, especially given the lighting in studio. I think that this was the right decision, and I'll stick by it for now.


Where I sat (well off centre to stage) ended up creating some amazing chances for close ups on the pole, and for using the stage cross lights to create beautiful effects and shapes for the dancers. Saying this, I want to be in the center next event, so that I get more even distances for the static vs spin pole.

using the cross lights - notice the veins in the wings?

Don't use continuous shoot

In the past I've use continuous shoot to "lazily" make sure I get the photo that I wanted of a move. However it can bog down the camera and cause you to miss the next move while it buffers. True I have a better camera now, but rather than hold rapid fire button, I have been trying to time and preempt movements. It worked really well again, allowing me to get a lot of good shots with clean lines of the performers. The new camera has a faster screen refresh rate too, which helps if sudden changes occur on stage that I want to capture.

Close up and framing

I used angles in photos, both by turning the camera, height of the camera, or even the performer, to help create different effects. Lowering the camera can make a person seem powerful or grand for example. I tried to use closer, more intimate portrait framings for capturing faces or certain poses. I think that (mostly) these worked really well, adding extra dimensions to the photos of the performers.

can you feel the calm?

Shoot once - Edit never

For every photo that I get right at the event, is a photo I don't need to edit and "save" later. By putting in so much time into what I wanted to take, planning, practice and researching, I had a breeze editing the photos. Many of them came out the camera, and became what you see today. Some needed minor cropping (say 5% on the border?). But there was no need to heavily edit or manage the photos, only a need to review. By shooting without continous also meant less photos to review, and higher quality.

To improve

Autofocus location and mode

Initially I missed a few shots while in portrait mode. The autofocus speed was really dropping on the camera, and I didn't know why. It turns out that on my camera to the "edges" of the frame, it does not use phase-based AF, falling back on a slower system. When I rotated the camera to portrait mode, the focus points on the edge were activated, causing phase-based AF to be disabled!

So now that I know this, I'll be sure to watch out for the edges.

phase autodetect areas


In the past I learned to "shoot wider" at pole dance because no one likes to lose a hand or a foot. It seems to be a lesson I forgot, because of my proximity to the pole. In the past I've used my telephoto lens at a distance, but being so close to the dancers meant that my mind decided to drop a few lessons of the past. So next time, I'll be shooting wider to keep everyone's appendages intact.


I experimented with using my flash for post-event group photos. It was worth while as I had it set wrong for the whitebalance (green skin anyone?) and in the wrong orientation. As a result all the group photos missed the people in the back!

Next time I will create a seperate WB profile for flash, and I'll be sure to check the angle of the flash better to make sure I keep everyone well lit.

our other glorious photographer


This was a great experience, and I great event. I hope that next time I can do even better from these lessons, and that I will continue to improve my photography.