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Preparing for a Professional Fitness Photo Shoot

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As a professional personal trainer or health and wellness coach, your headshot is often the very first thing that most potential customers are going to see when they come across your information. Even if feel like you always take a bad picture, there are some simple things you can do to help optimize your photoshoot and get results that will help you market your services.

Be tasteful and professional as you think about what you are trying to attract with your photos. Remember that your photo is most likely the first image that people make an impression from and it takes them seconds to form an opinion based on how you look.  You want to appear as the fitness professional you are and not a gym rat or sex goddess.  Your photo is the thing they are going to (or not going to) connect with. Keep in mind that this photo is going to be seen all over town, and potentially all over the world from billboards to social networking sites, blogs, your website, newspaper ads, and more. 

Find a credible photographer who is willing to show you their portfolio, has been established in business as a professional photographer, is willing to provide client references, has a studio and is available to schedule a photoshoot within 14 days.  You want to be sure you are comfortable with the photographer. If you are nervous, intimidated or in any way uncomfortable with the photographer, that will show up on the photos.

Find out their terms for payment and cancellation – it’s not unusual for a photographer to request a deposit to reserve the time.

DO NOT let your friend with a digital camera take your photos. The last thing you would want to do is to have the expense of time and money to prepare for the photoshoot only to have wasted your day when you find out none of the shots are usable.  It would be like telling a bodybuilder or figure competitor the night after the contest that the judges were not qualified and they would have to come back next weekend to be judged again.  As you can imagine, it’s not as glamorous as it looks, it will likely take one half of a day and you have the expense of hair, makeup, time away from work and so on.   Trust me you don’t want to make this mistake.

The package – discuss how many photos and changes of clothes you are allowed.  Find out the package options regarding how many touched up photo’s you get as well as how many printed.  They also may give you a calling card as an option where they design a card with a variety of your images and contact info to be used in a media kit.   Find out all of the costs and be sure that you own the right to all of the images that are taken of you. You should receive all of them on a disc.

The delivery – find out how long it will take to view your images. They should be available on a password protected site within 48 hours. Then find out how long it will take for the touch-ups and final proofs. Find out what format they will be delivered in for web and print use. 

Begin shopping for and gathering new or like new clothes.  Your clothes should be new or barely worn for the photoshoot. Don’t shop for anything highly trendy as these photo’s should last you at least two to three years and you don’t want them to look dated.  You want to find outfits for the following looks:

  • Professional – something you might give a presentation in
  • Fitness – something you might train someone in –tracksuit
  • Branding – if you have a club or studio, wear something with the logo or have the logo in the shot (in front of the building or a wrapped vehicle). If the is something else that brands you such as a soccer ball, a track, boot camp equipment, kids, etc plan for that with your photographer. 
  • Workout – If you are in great shape (hopefully you are) you should show that you walk your talk.  Dress in something you might work out in.   Remember to be tasteful. 
  • Casual shot – something that expressed who you are. This might be a pair of jeans or khakis. Possibly something you might wear to a seminar or church. You should feel comfortable in it and able to have fun feeling relaxed in front of the camera by this last change of clothes.

The Shots – be sure you have at least one good close up and full body of each of the looks you decide upon.  Also, ask if you can get a few black and white in addition to the color shots.

What look should I strive for? –You want to look like you. If you look too different then how you usually are when you arrive for a seminar or to meet that celebrity client they may feel deceived.  Do not have your photo’s overly touched up. The pictures should not look model perfect but like the real you.

More on Clothing – Solid colors like black are always good.  Leave white at home unless you wear it underneath something. Bring sweaters and jackets (leather is always good). V-necks elongate the face, so bring them. Short sleeves or sleeveless usually do not look good in headshots. Suits are great for men as an additional look. Clothes should be neatly pressed and should be new or like new. Dark Clothes: Attract more attention to your face and eyes.  Dark Clothing also can draw your facial features out.  Contact your photographer to discuss your looks. 

Gather accessories – Bring accessories and your personality things like a laptop, dumbbells, bike, fins, clipboard or anything cool and original.

Nice extra’s – consider going for a facial to get rid of any dead layers of skin and give you a clear glowing complexion.

Avoid dramatic changes– This is not the time to go for a drastic makeover where people would not recognize who you were.  Make sure your hair if professionally covering any gray’s or sporting new highlights at least a week prior to the shoot so you know that you are happy with the look.

Posing – Look at magazines for posing ideas and practice posing and your expressions in front of a mirror as much as possible. Pose the same way the models are posed in these magazines and try to improve the pose. Know what poses and expressions you look good in.  Practice Smiling, practice a sexy look, practice serious, practice, practice, and practice.   You can also check out other leading fitness professionals websites for idea’s and then do what works for you.

Determine where you will take your pictures. Discuss this with the photographer. You will likely want some combination of indoor and outdoor shots. Ask about the backgrounds.  Inform the photographer of the colors you will be wearing so there will be complimentary backgrounds.

The day before – Go for a massage and get to bed early. You don’t want to appear with bags under your eyes or dark circles. You want to be energized and have fun with it.  DO NOT use any new product on your hair, face or body. Get a good night sleep before the shoot. Hydrate with water.  I’m not even going to say anything about alcohol b/c I KNOW you wouldn’t even consider it the night before your big shoot.

The morning of – have a healthy breakfast. You will most likely not be able to eat during the photoshoot and you will be there for hours considering hair, makeup and the shooting time.   

What should I bring to my photoshoot?

  • Arrive exactly on time. If you arrive too early you may distract a shoot in session and arriving late will put everyone behind schedule and create unnecessary tension.
  • Bring your iPod player so that you can relax and have fun while prepping and in front of the cameras.
  • If possible bring your hairdresser and makeup artist. Women especially will want them there throughout the entire shoot to look at the shots as they are being taken and give feedback on hair and makeup. It’s common to have to power your face as it gets shiny under the lights or ladies may want to put their hair up for a different look.  At the very least show up with your hair and makeup completed to your liking
  • Bring a hairbrush. As you are changing positions your hair will get tousled, windblown, lose its curl or get frizzy, etc.  Be prepared.
  • Wear clear deodorant as us you will be changing several times
  • Don’t’ wear underwear if you have fitting clothing–it may leave a visible line in your clothing. 
  • Men – Please have form-fitting clothes for the actual photoshoot.
  • Bring any products you prefer to wear on your face and hair.
  • If you are doing your own makeup, apply it as if you were going out at night and wanted to impress someone.  Bring what you need for touchups.
  • Nails should be manicured (Clear nail polish is best).
  • Arrive wearing your first look.
  • You can also bring your old headshots to give the photographer an idea of what you liked or didn’t like. 
  • Men should bring Lip Balm, to keep your lips moist. 
  • Bring a GREAT attitude. (This really, really helps!)

Your Personal and Coaching Career

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There is always something exciting about earning a new training or coaching certification and applying that new knowledge of how you train your clients. This also helps you hit the reset button.

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