Fitness Photography Tips

November 22

20 min. to read

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Creative gym photography is often a hobby or profession for avid athletes.

Capturing the movement, dynamics of routine exercises, the physique of hard work, and the great shape of muscles of athletic bodies is the photographer's main task. The equipment can cause both envy and amazement — huge lenses that require their own tripod, lots of accessories, and continuous tracking of every movement. But it is really necessary.

Before advancing to the Premier League of bodybuilder photographers, you have to learn, and the best way is through a small event where you can practice shooting.

Who needs a fitness photoshoot? 

The first thing to do is to determine the purpose for which you are taking the bodybuilding photography. This determines the style in which it will be taken. Why do we need photos on social networks? To increase the number of followers, of course! That's why everyone who works on social networks needs them. You can also make pictures of yourself and your family, and put them in an album or a portfolio. So, depending on your goal, the photos will be different:

  • Delight the eye. Instagram is a social network for visuals, its users are used to bright, juicy pictures of good quality. Statistically, a well-lit photo gets more likes and comments and draws the attention of more people, and the coverage increases.

  • Show off your figure. If you want to get more attention from your followers, show your figure as much as you can, and it doesn't matter how much it conforms to the accepted standards. Also, keep in mind that selfies are usually less popular. In addition, the gym portrait “not in the mirror” will allow you to look at yourself from the outdoors, to understand how other people see you.

  • Get your friends together. Taking a quality group photo is more difficult: it's very difficult to choose the same type of figures and to get the colors in the bows of the models to match. Group photos are more about content than aesthetics.

How to get ready for a fitness photoshoot

General advice

Here are a few things not to forget:

  • Strive for harmony and healthy living. In the workout photography genre, followers appreciate both your body and your bow, so it's important that everything is in harmony. People on social media love to look at and discuss clothes, not for nothing is Instagram the best social network for selling clothes and shoes. My experience shows that it is very significant to use bright colors while avoiding garish prints. My recipe is to wear monochrome, as bright as possible, cool to match the location. So it's essential where the shoot takes place — at the gym.

  • Hide flaws. Be aware of the features of your figure, wear something that hides flaws and emphasizes the advantages. For example, I have rather voluminous hips, with a narrow waist and a flat stomach, and I choose solid-colored leggings, shorts, bikinis, and a bright top — then you can see the proportions, and the waist stands out. Let's not forget about sneakers and shoes: on Instagram, they often emphasize details, especially if the fitness model photoshoot is of high quality, and taken in good highlight. Even bright laces on ordinary sneakers can “make” the photo.

  • Pose. Keep your body type in mind while posing as well: put your leg slightly forward, bend it at the knee, bend in the lower back, pull your belly in, and lift your chin — these are basic things that make the body look proportional and slender.  Try to find some gym picture ideas on the internet. You shouldn't press your arm against your body, better, for example, put it at your waist or lift it up. It is very important that the pose be relaxed. Each of us has an image online — try to take pictures according to it. If you want to show off your muscles, you can do some pumping—do a little workout to get the muscles to bleed and make the body look more voluminous and sculpted.

Don't get carried away with filters. As social networks are actively developing, there are new applications for users' ideas. There are a lot of filters and applications available, but I'm in favor of having a good quality workout photoshoot from the very beginning, which minimizes the necessity of post-processing. I am against Photoshop and total processing: 90% of a photograph's success is the right clothes, and it needed to edit with good lighting, especially indoors. That said, if you understand that this is the filter you're winning in, ignore trends, and publish. The main thing is that your content should be aesthetically pleasing and useful.

Camera settings

To create a gym photoshoot at events, of course, you need a camera. A DSLR is good, of course, but modern mirrorless cameras are sometimes faster in continuous shooting. This, of course, comes from not having to raise the mirror all the time. Therefore, the fps value of mirrorless cameras is always higher. The main necessity, however, is the ability to manually set the shutter speed. Since you will need to shoot fast and get sharp pictures.

When you arrive at the venue, don't forget to ask if you can also shoot. It's always best to stock up on resolution, and then move on to shooting afterward. You can discuss ideas of workout poses for pictures with your friends.

More or less professional photographers, who have good portfolios don't need to be reminded of this, but it's always worth noting that in photography it's extremely rare for the automatic mode to help, and for some reason, we are offered a lot of manual settings. In order to understand how and what works, the first thing to do is to read the manual of the camera. Then you will be able to understand each parameter separately, and you will not be frightened of such concepts as ISO, aperture, white balance, etc. So forget about automatic modes, even if they are called Sports or Action. We need the manual mode.

This is a must-have rule that should not be forgotten at all. You are going to shoot fast, fast action, so it makes sense that we require a fast shutter speed to get clarity and avoid shadows and blurry shots. At least 1/500 sec. will be enough to capture a moving subject, if you set a shutter speed slower, all the associated risks will show up.

For starters, let's take a look good at the classic shooting modes offered by the average DSLR or mirrorless camera. In addition to automatic and manual modes, there are such modes as shutter priority (Shutter Priority) and experiment with different aperture priority (Aperture Priority).

Aperture is a value designated as A or AV, it is measured in f/, or steps, and means how best lightning passes through the aperture directly to the sensor. If you set it to aperture priority, the camera will set the shutter speed itself. This is an ideal mode for shooting on a sunny day and is used by many professionals in fitness photoshoots. But what exactly do you need to do to set the aperture correctly? We need to set it to a high value, which means the number should be the opposite, lower. For example, f/2.8 or f/4. In this way, the maximum of light will get to the sensor, and the camera will automatically set a short shutter speed for the correct exposure.

It's clear that shutter speed and aperture are important, but the third important exposure value is ISO or natural light. When we shoot in semi-automatic modes, be it aperture priority or shutter speed, we have to set the ISO manually. To do this, we take into account the location and the weather conditions, and even the time. For instance, if it is sunny in the daytime, ISO 400 is sufficient, but if the sky is overcast, ISO 800-1200 is sufficient. You can find out more about this value from the manual, of course.

If aperture priority mode is not available, choose shutter speed priority mode.

If you're not shooting with a DSLR, but with a camera that only lets you operate the shutter speed setting, you'll have to work with this mode. Even with a travel camera, this is usually possible, though there is a tendency to do more with modern cameras. Still, let's note a few details and fitness photo shoot ideas.

Instead of telling the camera how much light to let in, we'll tell you right away what shutter speed to set — 1/500 second will suffice. But don't forget to take a few test shots to see on the fly whether the value is set correctly, given the environment.

In order for the camera to have time to track the fast movements of athletes, it is best to set a long focus on the subject or subjects rather than focusing on a single point. Also, be sure to set the camera to continuous shooting mode. The Burst value measured in fps (literal frames per second) will show how many frames per second you can shoot. The higher the fps value, the better. So if you want to create out as an amateur shooter, but plan to continue doing gym photography events, the best choice is a mirrorless camera. Mirrorless cameras, as we've already noted, allow you to shoot a lot of frames per second, and DSLRs are way behind in that regard.

The most convenient point is usually where the sun is behind you. This way the shooting space will be well-lit. This rule is practically golden. You will, of course, need a big memory card and a good camera battery, but the challenge is to shoot first and choose later. You can find gym picture ideas in the biography of famous athletes and bodybuilders. The very essence of the event, be it, is about dynamics and speed. So, it is these qualities that the photographer specializing in impressive fitness shooting will have to adopt. You can see the results later, exactly as you can decide the best fitness shots. Shooting in RAW format, you can fix some of them in post-processing, the main thing is to have time to shoot the most spectacular eye-catching moments. That is why it is quite usual for a photographer to go home with more than 2,000 raw images, of which at most 50 will be published.

Fitness photography: tips and poses

The first thing to keep in mind when planning workout picture ideas in the summer, especially if you like to relax on the beach, is whether white marks from swim trunks and swimsuits will be visible when the uniform for the shoot is put on. To avoid problems, in 10-14 days, you should follow these rules:

  • In sunny weather wear pants or a skirt to the floor, a shirt with long sleeves and a high neckline, and a wide-brimmed hat;

  • To sunbathe on a nudist beach, or in an outfit, the contours of which are smaller than the planned sports uniform for fitness photography;

  • To avoid stains on the skin, be responsible about evenly spreading the sunscreen and tanning cream;

  • When visiting the tanning salon, ensure that your skin tans evenly on each side (part) of your body;

  • Both at the beach and in the tanning salon, remember to treat the areas below the armpits, the inner parts of the arms, and the graceful muscles with ultraviolet light;

  • Stop sunbathing two days before the photo shoot and try to find some fitness picture ideas.

Think in advance about the images in regular and yoga clothes for exercise photoshoots. Keep in mind that lingerie marks can stay on your body for 20-30 minutes. When choosing a color scheme for clothes, remembers that a digital camera likes monochrome and the absence of large logos, stripes, small patterns, and polka dots. The optimal color is different shades of blue and black (matte). White is a good shadow for a tan, but it makes the muscle volumes underneath look flat. Do not wear neon shiny fabrics, they make the figure look fuller and also flatten the muscle relief. Ignore the negative comments. There are always plenty of envious people, so don't take criticism personally. Instead, think about what else you need to work on and what you can improve. Don't get hung up on pictures. Fitness shoots should not compete with workouts. You can find the “golden ratio” for yourself — for example, hold a maximum of one photo shoot per 10 or 15 workouts. In addition, you'll be able to see the results of your training right away.

Model poses

The best poses for an athletic photoshoot have been known for a long time. Decide on those in which you feel comfortable. Practice them in front of the mirror for a few days. During the photo shoot, observe the following conditions.

Very interesting can be photos in casual or holiday clothes taken at the gym. Don't stand as a log. Here are some standard fitness photoshoot poses that will emphasize body contours and voluminous muscles:

  • In sitting positions, set your legs up;

  • Put your arms around yourself, sag a little and lean your head back;

  • Stand with your thigh in the palm of your hand, with the unsupported leg out to the side and forward;

  • Cross your arms and legs by changing the position of your crossed arms relative to your torso;

  • Hug the bar of the strength trainer like a loved one, or use it to perform a one-armed lateral half-hang.

There are a lot of options, don't be shy — fantasize and find some fitness photography tips on the Internet or in sports magazines. Then there will be something to look at, compare, or remember. 

Tip: don't forget about facial expressions. Sometimes you have to be serious, and sometimes you have to have fun. If you do it right, you'll get the perfect result.  This applies to both male and female fitness photoshoot ideas.

Conclusion

And in conclusion, catch a few more short but important tips. On the day of the photo shoot, give up working out. The night before, do not abuse alcohol, get a good night's sleep, and find fitness photoshoot ideas before the session. Be persistent, take a lot of pictures, wake up the “star” in you and everything will work out!


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