Fitness Photography Tips

How To Make Your Gains Look Great

Fitness photography is a great way to show off the work you have put into your own body. Whether you’re a bodybuilder looking to capture your perfect muscle definition, or an Instagram influencer that wants to look great in your client’s apparel, the following fitness photography tips will help you look your best. 

Via Lionshead Studios

Tip #1: Capture The Essence Of Your Sport

Every sport can be distilled down to a handful of events that serve to define the sport itself. Chances are its essence revolves around some action that a payment would have trouble completing successfully. These skill-filled events are the perfect place to start your fitness photography journey.  

Via Long Living Pets

For example, cross-fitters can show off their skills with a heavy rope. In powerlifting, the essence could be captured when weightlifters begin their jerk and their muscles show the strain of the weight. To really make your fitness photos stand out from the rest, find the essence of your sport and highlight it. 

Tip #2: Include Blur to Focus on Action

One thing that almost all fitness disciplines have in common is movement, and it can sometimes be tricky to control this movement in your photos. If you are using a DSLR, try putting it in manual mode so you can control shutter speed and aperture. If you’re shooting your photos on a smartphone, be sure the app you are using allows you to control these parameters as well. 

This can take some trial and error, but your goal is to set your shutter speed so that the main movement is blurred a little. Be careful that the rest of the photo is in sharp focus. By doing so, you can add action and movement to an otherwise static photo. 

Perhaps you can find that perfect shutter speed that allows a runner’s legs to be slightly blurred, emphasizing their movement, while the runner’s face and body is nice and sharp. Or how about letting the wheels of a cyclist blur from speed? There is a lot you can do with selective blurring, so take some time to experiment to find the best results. 

Tip #3: Plan Ahead & Practice Your Shot

Great fitness photography does not happen by accident. To get the most from your photo shoot, make sure to plan ahead. This means going through the shoot in your head, trying to think of all the variables that could cause you trouble and then figure out how you can avoid such problems. 

This could mean bringing your own light or camera flash in case the scene does not provide enough light on its own, like on a cloudy day. Or a change of clothes so that the outfit is not drenched in sweat. Be sure to build a contingency plan that will help you get the right shot.

Your chances of getting the perfect fitness shot the first time around are low. If you’re working with a model, be sure that you have tested out your shot prior to the photoshoot, so you can focus on capturing the photo, not HOW you will capture it while your model waits.

Batman photobomb of athlete
A Batman Photobomb via MeatheadMilitia

It’s also important to scout fitness photo shoot locations ahead of time. Get to know how the light will look at the time of day you’ll be shooting. Make sure that you have permission to be there if you are shooting on private property or even some parks and nature preserves. Understand how daily life around your location could affect your shoot. And it goes without saying, pay attention to your surroundings so you can avoid photobombers. 

Fitness Photography Tips #4: Use Props to Stand Out

The popularity of fitness photography means that your photo is competing with thousands of other athlete’s photos for attention. Why not set yours apart with some props? These props can range from fancy and high tech to simple and on-hand. 

Via Westcott U

Take a look around your fitness area to see what’s available, and use your creative mind to play through how that prop could improve your shot. For example, does your sport use chalk to increase grip, like they do in rock climbing? Try using a fast shutter speed to capture a plume of chalk after a hand clap. The breath of a winter athlete can really show the viewer just how cold it is outside!

Via SnowDome

Other props could include capes for a runner and a smoke machine for a dancer. Take a moment to think what prop could really set your photo apart from the rest, and then make it happen!

Tip #5: Find Your Angle

An easy way to improve your photos is to change your capture angle. You can do this by getting low to the ground to accentuate an athlete’s size, or shooting from above to see the scene in a whole new way. Don’t be afraid to lay on the ground or climb a tree. You won’t know just how good the angle could look until you try it. These changes often take little effort and result in huge improvements. 

Tip #6: Edit Your Fitness Photos

Perhaps one of the most important fitness photography tips: It’s much easier to find examples of poor editing than great fitness photo editing. The reason: a well edited photo will not look edited. Don’t try and edit out an unwanted love handle, as these changes are not only dishonest, they are often caught by the viewer. 

Tip: Don't over edit your fitness photos
Via Daily Mail, note the obvious edits. Shame on you Kylie!

Focus on improving the action of the photo or focusing attention on the subject of the photos with your edits. Do this by editing color in certain areas or converting your photo to 3D with the help of LucidPix. Several of the photos shown above were made 3D with a single tap in the LucidPix app.