How to Manage a Fitness Photoshoot

10 Essential Tips for Managing Your First Fitness Photoshoot

Every trainer should have professional fitness photography for their business. It can be cheap, quick, and easy if you use these 10 tips for managing your first fitness photoshoot.

If there is one thing that every personal trainer should spend a couple bucks on, it’s a photoshoot. If you manage it correctly, a single session could give you enough photography for months or years of social media and website posts. It will make you look professional and set you apart from the thousands of other trainers you’re competing with.

I’ve personally managed about 50 photoshoots for different websites and magazines and I can tell you that good, original photos are worth more than gold. They can provide you with endless amount of content for your website and social media marketing and they can turn a boring article into a powerhouse that gets you thousands of hits.

Fitness Website

No matter what your thoughts on fitness photography are, you need it. Stop being shy and get in front of the camera. No, you don’t have to take off your shirt if you don’t want to, but you still need some fitness pictures of you in action. While your poorly lit, shaky photos may get a few likes on Instagram, at the end of the day, the people who will spend money on your products and services want to see some professionalism; and good fitness photography is where it starts.

Better yet, fitness photography doesn’t have to be expensive or take much time. I’ve done photoshoots for my old magazine (My Mad Methods/Onnit Academy) that cost as little as $50. Use these 5 tips to manage your next fitness photoshoot.

#1 – Find & Download Example Pictures

fitness photoshoots

There is no need to reinvent the wheel with your first fitness photoshoot; simply doing the photoshoot is already going to set you apart from most fitness professionals! This step is easy and fun, just go online to your favorite brands and download them into a folder.

Just check out popular fitness/sport related brands like Nike, Under Armour, Lululemon, etc. or go outside the box for ideas by looking at other industries that have a look and feel that you like. For me, I like to look at grungy fashion, hip hop, and urban photography. Don’t just look for a pose either, try to notice the lighting, atmosphere, and other design elements in your example pictures. When you’re ready, select two or three that you like the best and be ready to explain why you like them to your photographer.

#2 – Make a List of Every Shot You Need

Never go into a fitness photoshoot with a “we’ll see what happens” attitude; that is a recipe for wasting time. Create a list of every movement/pose you’re looking to capture. If you’re using this for your website, think of the exact page that the photos are needed for. Think of the current and future articles you write that may need photos.

Do you need hero shots? Do you need sequence shots? Do you need multiple variations of the same exercise (i.e. Kettlebell Front Squat, Kettlebell Goblet Squat, Double Kettlebell Squat, etc.)? It’s important that you write it all down or you’ll most likely skip over important shots without noticing it at the time. Fitness photoshoots can be hectic; keep the list with you and mark off the shots as you get them.

#3 – Bring Multiple Sets of Clothing

The best way to get the most out of a single fitness photoshoot is to bring a variety of clothes, that way it will look like you did multiple photoshoots. No matter how cool your pictures are, if you’re wearing the same clothes in each shot, all of your webpages and social media posts will start to blend together and people will stop noticing them. By simply changing your shirt/pants, you’ll create an entirely new set of photos.

#4 – Find a Good Photoshoot Location

While choosing a location is usually dependent on what you’re going to use the pictures for and what you’re trying to say about your brand, I’m going to assume that you just need a set of fitness photos to get started (adding in the branding/marketing aspects is much more complicated).

If you want the maximum utility, you’ll want a location that will allow for a variety of backgrounds. Just like bringing different sets of clothes, a good location will make it seem like you did multiple photoshoots. Places like large parks, beaches/piers, downtown cities, warehouse gyms, and abandoned buildings are interesting locations that could provide different backdrops. You could use different backdrops in a studio, but that will usually cost more money.

#5 – Be Flexible During Your Fitness Photoshoot

While you need to get the shots that you wrote down on your shot list, try to be flexible and open to getting cool photos when they present themselves. You won’t be able to plan or foresee everything, especially in outdoor locations, so you need to be ready to change if necessary. Some of the coolest photos I’ve gotten have been because we jumped on an opportunity for a shot the moment it arrived. Sometimes the lighting is perfect or the timing is just right, so be ready and willing to change.

#6 – Find the Right Photographer

In most metropolitan areas there are many, many photographers. There are several ways to find them, including posting the need for one on your social media channels, posting an ad on Craigslist, or asking friends for referrals. The best way that I’ve found so far is by using a website called Thumbtack ( Thumbtack allows you to post a job and your budget for free, at which point you can ask the photographers questions and find the one you want. Here is a description that I use when I’m posting jobs:

Photographer needed for a fitness photoshoot. I need action shots that capture different exercises and movements. I’ll need some of the photos edited and I’ll also need the raw images from the shoot.

I usually put a budget of $50-$100 and get between 3-5 offers from different photographers. At that point, I look at their portfolio and websites to make sure they have done something that looks like what I need (this is where those example pictures you selected will come in handy). Remember that even if they offer to do the job for one price, they may still be willing to go lower if you ask them to.

#7 – Always Get Demonstration Pictures & Hero Shots

If you’re planning on using your fitness photoshoot pictures for exercise or workout articles, you’ll need demonstration pictures. For these shots, your entire body will need to be in the shot and the camera shouldn’t move if you want a sequence; changing the angle for a series like this will confuse the reader.


Hero shots on the other hand, should feature extreme angles and close ups. The best example of a hero shot are Marvel movie banners. Just type “ironman movie” into google images and you’ll get the idea. Hero shots are very useful for your feature picture on articles, online banners, website home pages, and social media posts. Try to get a bunch of both types if possible.

#8 – Manage Your Photographer Closely

While you should be able to trust the abilities of your photographer, don’t assume that they will get the shots you need without a little direction. Unless they are trainers themselves, chances are that they don’t know what correct form looks like. A shot that looks great to them may show a bad rep of an exercise, meaning that you can’t use it. Also, if you want to make a sequence of photos, you’ll need to make sure that they got each step of the exercise. Don’t be afraid to ask them if you can see the camera after they take a few photos.

I would print out your example photos as well and bring them with you. Show them to the photographer to give them a better idea of how they should be lighting the shot and adjusting the angles.

#9 – Get the Raw Files

Chances are that you aren’t going to be able to list all the different ways you’re going to use the photos from your fitness photoshoot. In fact, it’s not unusual for me to create entire articles around certain pictures just because I have the pictures. For this reason, you should always get the raw, unedited pictures just in case you want to use them in the future. You can always edit them yourself or have someone edit them for you. Some photographers may not want to do this, so you need to tell them that you want the raw files before you hire them.

#10 – Bring a Buddy

If you have a fitness partner or friend, have them help you with your fitness photoshoot. Again, chances are that your photographer is not going to be a trainer as well, so you’ll need someone who can tell you if your form is off in any way. They should have some idea of how you train and will let you know if you need to correct your posture, adjust your pose, fix your hair, etc. They may also be needed to help the photographer move their equipment to different locations or hold a bounce card for lighting.

That’s it! Get out there and do a fitness photoshoot. You’ll make your offering much more valuable.

If You HAVE TO Use Stock Photography

If you still don’t want to do your own fitness photoshoot, you can find stock pictures online (I always recommend Check back soon for an article about how to select the right stock photos.

fitness business, photography

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