Ep 52: Feel the burn: Mastering fitness and body shots


In this “bootcamp” series, Valerie gives Gina a typical client brief – this one centres around taking photos for a gym. Gina walks through her planning, shooting and production process in order to achieve the best results. In this episode, they discuss practical strategies on what you need to do to shoot fitness models or simply great body shots when you’re at the beach or on holiday. It’s also ideal if you want to achieve artistic pics that don’t look cheesy.

#ginachallenge #fitnessshots

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Show notes

Useful link

Watch how people respond when they’re randomly told they’re beautiful.


Ben Hopkins

bike sitting outside a shop front with fairy lights on the wheels

Photography Boot Camp: How to photograph fitness models and body shots

The brief from the client

I want to achieve a variety of shots that I can use for promotion purposes for my website and marketing materials for Gifted Gym.

These are the kinds of shots I would like to achieve:

* Shots for website and brochures
I would like these to be non-cheesy shots – so while it’s important to show fit bodies, I don’t want the focus to be on the abs etc., and I don’t want classic fight poses. I would like lifestyle shots of people working out. You are welcome to come to the gym to shoot while people are working out. I’d like people to be “in action”.

I would like “fighting shots”, but of people who are actually fighting.

I would also like “inset” shots so that people can see what else is in the gym, e.g. shots of the cage, shots of kettlebells, shots of protein shakes, shots of rings etc.

I would like friendly shots of trainers being nice to clients. But also some tough shots where they are pushing their clients and training them to an elite level.

* Shots for social media
These need to be quality but also look “real” or else people won’t believe they are authentic. I’d like to use them with instructional posts like “This is how you do a kettlebell swing”.

* Shots for cover
There is potential that we may be able to provide a shot for the cover of a bodybuilding magazine of the owner John. We don’t want a body shot for this. We want John with his shirt ON but looking cool. We don’t want him in fighting stance, we want to position him as a leader and veteran of the industry. The guy that everyone wants to be.

* Group shot of the elite fighters
On Friday our 7 elite fighters will be at the gym. 6 men and 1 woman. We would like a group shot that looks good!

* Headshots of all our trainers (8 of them)

The process

Defining the genre of fitness shots and when you might shoot them.
Arty vs commercial

Mark Raffety Black and White Magazine cover

Mark Raffety Black and White cover

Herb Ritts

Definition and some home truths

You want that cut look – sometimes it’s out of your control because you need:

  • Men 5-6% body fat
  • Women 12-20% body fat (so give your models advance notice where possible!

Models fitness vs lingerie
Getting models shoot ready
Tanning/makeup to accentuate muscle tone
Diet vs exercise
Hair removal
Mood of the shot
Moody (arty)
Clean/commercial (editorial or advertising)

Lighting styles

  • 11am-1pm full sun (Herb Ritts)
  • Hard light + fill
  • Silver reflector

Down lighting to accentuate muscles

Lens choice

Long or fixed

Shoot from low angle for powerful looking shots


  • Active/action shots
  • Lifestyle shots


  • dark moody backgrounds
  • windows
  • grungy exteriors
  • rustic walls
  • locker rooms

Post production techniques

  • grungy treatment
  • dodge and burn for muscle definition

Filler or inset shots

  • shoes
  • gym equipment
  • wide shots

Shoot ideas

Luke Deslandes surf shot

Luke Deslandes

Kai Duval shower shot

Kai Duval

Daniel Macpherson taking off his shirt

Daniel Macpherson

Daniel Macpherson on his knees

Daniel Macpherson

inset shot shoes hanging up black and white photo

Inset shot

Kai Duval shirtless doorway

Kai Duval

The footy show hosts shirtless in a locker room

The Footy Show

shirtless guy laying on a beach

Carla Bonner fighting pose

Carla Bonner (2001)

#ginachallenge #fitnessshots


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About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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