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Why and how to get fitness photoshoot lighting?

Fitness photoshoot lighting is one of the most essential aspects in fitness photography. It's essential for shaping the physique, highlighting muscles, and creating jaw-dropping pictures that encapsulate the essence of strength and determination. In this article, we will focus on the following aspects to help you delve into the world of fitness photoshooting.

  • Why proper lighting matters in fitness photography?
  • How to set up lighting to ensure great outcomes?
  • Some tips to pay attention to during fitness shooting session
An example of fitness photo

Why lighting matters in fitness photography?

Before we get into the exact techniques, it's important to understand why lighting matters in fitness photography. For fitness coaches, fitness models, athletes, etc., proper light can:

  • Highlight Muscle Definition: Well-placed lighting may highlight your muscles' curves and definition, making them stand out in the shot.
  • Create Depth and Shadows: Lighting can give depth to your photographs by casting fascinating shadows that highlight muscle size and structure.
  • Enhance Texture: Whether you want a dry and chiseled look or a smooth and glossy look, lighting may highlight the texture of your skin and muscles.

Video: How to get 2 light setup for fitness photography?

Video by Brett Seeley Photography

In the video, fitness photographer Brett Seeley demonstrates the use of two COLBOR CL100X lighting units for capturing both video and still images within a gym setting. The included light base facilitates the attachment of the CL100X to a stand, offering the flexibility to place and orient the light as needed. Additionally, a Bowens-mount adapter is utilized to affix a 36-inch octobox to one CL100X, while the other is equipped with a softbox.

The beauty of this fitness photography lighting setup lies in the primary light source’s ability to illuminate the model. It can be strategically placed either in front or to the side for optimal effect. The latter one often provides a more flattering result.

The second light serves a dual purpose: it can function as a fill light to soften shadows, or, with the addition of a grid modifier, it can produce a distinct rim lighting effect that subtly highlights the model’s outer edges. Check the video to see how Brett Seeley arranged the gym photoshoot lighting.

Fitness photoshoot lighting tips: 5 tips for great fitness photos

Besides learning about the lighting setups, lighting techniques, angles, and other factors also influence the outcomes. Here are some tips you need to pay attention to.

Use low key lighting to accentuate the physique

Fitness photoshoot lighting should accentuate the physique. It greatly influences how the model appears. Using low-key lighting instead of high-key will aid in the creation of the ideal fitness shot.

Fitness photographers should use light and shadow streaks instead of lighting the entire scene. Shadows highlight muscles and provide depth to the fitness photo.
Photographers should control the light to hit the figure diagonally rather than directly. If photographers don't have the equipment to generate this type of lighting, natural light is a choice. For example, they can use window light.

Take photos with window light for flattering fitness portraits

Natural light from a window is a popular source of light for all photographers. A big window allows you to create direct light, side light, and backlight. It provides for a lot of variation in the images.

It is a good choice for fitness that requires equipment, but it also works well for non-equipment exercises such as yoga. The light coming from a window can be regulated. Use nets or reflectors to disperse light and provide smooth, mellow tones.

For individual portraits, position your model as close to the window as feasible. You may take group photographs from a distance. The bigger the window, the better.

Play with natural light when having fitness photoshoots outside and inside

For an outdoor fitness photoshoot, it’s essential to harness the ambient light effectively to achieve the desired aesthetic. Optimal lighting conditions are typically found roughly 60 minutes prior to sunset, when the sunlight is softer and less likely to cast harsh shadows.

Consider these tips to arrange fitness photoshoot lighting well for outdoor shooting:

  • Avoid facing models directly at the sunlight, as it can produce intense shadows and flatten the visual depth of the image. Instead, position models to accentuate the curves of their muscles, with a side stance often yielding the best results. A neutral backdrop, such as a white or grey wall, can enhance this effect.
  • Alternatively, position the model with the sunlight behind them, ensuring it falls just outside the frame. This technique highlights the model’s outline with a subtle backlight.

Indoor natural lighting can be manipulated by using a simple reflector, like a white sheet or cardboard, placed below and out of the camera’s view. This setup diffuses the light, creating a balanced illumination on the model. For the best results, position yourself with a window at your back to minimize any potential glare in the photo.

Get the right angle for the best lighting for fitness photos

As aforementioned, the shot’s angle is crucial. The direction from which the photoshoot light strikes the subject, along with the angle at which they pose, plays a significant role in defining the photograph’s focus. Direct lighting tends to diminish the appearance of muscle definition.

For pronounced muscle visibility, ensure the fitness photoshoot lighting is at an angle that casts shadows across the muscles, adding depth and contour. Achieve this by positioning the model in such a way that they are not directly facing the light source, be it natural or artificial. A fitness photography specialist suggests that diagonal lighting, particularly from above and to one side, is most complimentary for showcasing male physique.

Adjust the exposure manually for proper exposure of fitness photos

Most skilled photographers like to manage the exposure of their fitness photos. The automated exposure option does not often provide the desired shadows on the model.

Therefore, to achieve the desired exposure, adjust it manually. Make the fitness photo somewhat darker than reality. This helps to highlight the light beaming on the body.

To darken the image, raise the shutter speed or decrease the aperture. Maintain the ISO value as low as feasible. Learn more about your camera and how to manually adjust the exposure to get the best outcomes.