Category: Photography Culture

Captain Kid

About a month ago, Rich Johnson took his family to Disney, so naturally, they hit up the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. If you’ve ever been to a Disney park you know that every ride dumps you out in a gift shop, and if you’ve ever been on the Pirates ride you know that it has the best gift shop Disney has to offer. It’s full of cool stuff, ranging from gold doubloons to hook hands. As Rich and his family were browsing his son pointed out an awesome pirate coat on one of the racks and started going on and on about how awesome it was. Rich picked it up to check it out, and it was actually really cool. It didn’t say “DISNEYYYY!!!!” or “PIRATES YOU WENT ON THE PIRATE RIDE. DISNEY. DISNEY AND PIRATES.” on it, and it was made out of really high quality materials. The best part? It was only $50, which is an almost unheard of price for a jacket over at The House of Mouse. So he bought it. Rich’s son loved it so much he wore it every day after, and spent every moment he could pretending he was a pirate. As Rich watched his son fight off devious smugglers in his backyard, he knew he had to get some photos of this time in his sons life.

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There’s this perceived notion out there that just because someone claims to be a photographer, they are one. It’s a touchy subject, especially within the photography community, because photography is an art form. But hey, just for now, lets assume it’s true. Anyone who claims to be a photographer actually is one! Now that we’ve put that argument aside, you should know that that warm and fuzzy title comes with strings attached. One of those strings is called “criticism”. Art, as I’m sure you’re aware, is a subjective field. Unfortunately, this has come to mean that anyone who creates any piece of garbage and calls it art suddenly becomes untouchable. Anyone who then criticizes said art is immediately called “mean” and a “bully” if their criticism goes anything beyond giving helpful tips to the creator. Saying things like “This is an excellent try, and next time it would be even better if you used frequency separation instead of the blur tool.” are wholly acceptable, whereas “This photo is terrible. It could’ve been good in some capacity if you’d only watch a tutorial and learn how to use the right tools to enhance your image instead of burying it under a landslide of awful.” will cause a public outcry. After all, they tried, right?

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The biggest struggle our photography studio had this past year was figuring out a digital storage system that allowed us to actively work on, share, view, and archive our photos. Once you hit a certain storage point, buying invididual WD external drives just doesn’t cut it. We got to the point where we had 20 of them laying around, and we needed to do something about it.

The first thing we did was purchase an 8tb WD My Cloud drive. We figured we could work off of that, and when it got full we’d archive the photos either on a cloud or externals that we’d file away. That worked great for awhile, but eventually we learned that the My Cloud drives time out when you’re pulling a lot of photo files into lightroom. When we tried to import or export a photo file that had more than 400 images we kept running into different errors, all related to drive speed. Also, once they were imported, working off that drive was virtually impossible. The speed just isn’t there, and even the previews in lightroom constantly have to buffer. This was pretty crippling, so our cloud drive is now where we put all of our completed retouched work that everyone in the studio can access to build advertising assets.

For archiving, we use Amazon Drive and physical externals. Whenever we import a project we immediately upload the RAWs to the cloud and an external, that way they can be accessed from anywhere via the cloud, but we also have our own drives where we can retrieve them should that cloud go down.

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Image is everything when it comes to fitness, especially if you’re trying to brand yourself as a professional within that industry. It’s really important that you represent yourself with photos that show off your hard work, and get the point across that you mean business. Selfies in a gym mirror are great for social media, but if you’re building a website or trying to put together a trainer profile that really stands out, you need high-quality images.

We do fitness photo sessions here at Spectacle Photo all the time, and we’ve ended up with a roller coaster of results. We do them for up and coming websites, established fitness companies, bodybuilders, trainers, models, gyms, etc., and through our experiences we’ve come up with a list of things that can make or break a fitness shoot. Recently we shot a session with Megan Mae, a fitness trainer who’s about to release her new website and hit the market with her own workout programs. Even though she had limited experience with dealing with professional photographers, Megan’s project was a great experience from start to finish, so we’re using it as our example shoot in the tips below to outline what you can do to make your fitness photoshoot awesome. Be sure to check out the gallery below!

Megan Mae Megan Mae

1. Be Prepared

Before you even book a photoshoot, think about what you’re trying to accomplish. What will you be using these photos for? What do you want them to say? Do you want your images shot at a location, in-studio, or both? How many photos do you need? When Megan initially contacted us through email, she answered all of these questions in a single paragraph summary. This is a big deal for us, since we get a lot of one sentence email inquiries that say things like “I need a fitness shoot. How much is that?” or “How much would you charge me for you to take my pictures. For workouts.”

Being prepared will help you outline your goals, and its critical for your photographer when he/she gauges the expectations you have for your photos.

2. Make an Effort

You’d be surprised how many people show up to their fitness session with a zero interest attitude. This is the #1 killer of photo sessions, especially when it comes to fitness. Despite being asked by us ahead of time, people show up without clothing changes, bring no fitness props, and maintain a general disinterest throughout the entire process.

Photoshoots are an experience. Not just for you, but for everyone involved. If you act bored, and don’t really care about making an effort, your photographer is going to pick up on those vibes and it will reflect in your photos. In contrast, when Megan showed up at our studio, she had a ton of different outfits, props, and we could immediately tell she had prepared for the shoot ahead of time and was really excited to get to work. That kind of effort alone makes us work harder. When someone is just as excited as we are to craft awesome photos, it fills the studio with creative energy. A lot of people don’t realize how important that is when it comes to photo sessions, because they incorrectly think of photography the same way they do a physical product. For example: If you walk into a Target and buy a toaster, the toaster is going to be the same no matter what attitude you’re sporting at the time of the purchase, right? Right. So if you walk into a studio and pay for photos to be taken, the photos will be the same no matter what attitude you’re sporting at the time, right? Wrong. If you have a zero effort attitude during your shoot, you’ll walk out with zero effort photos. It’s extremely difficult for photographers to get awesome images of someone who doesn’t want to be there, so get excited and bring every ounce of energy you have to your shoot. It pays off in every way.

3. Let Your Photographer Direct You

Professional fitness photographers have a list of poses that they know look good. Any pre-conceived notions you have about what pose makes a photo look good because of your instagram research is probably wrong. Lol, that’s just how it is. In reality, a lot of fitness poses look and feel ridiculous at the time, but they look awesome in the final images. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard “I won’t be smiling in any of these photos. I don’t look good when I smile.” and (before they even try it)”That pose is going to look weird, can we move on?” If you hired an actual professional and they ask you to do certain pose, give it your 100%, even if it feels like the most awkward thing you’ve ever done. If they ask you to smile during a pose, smile. Some poses are made or broken by whether or not the subject is smiling.

Throughout Megan’s shoot we had her doing all kinds of poses. We ran her through every pose we could think of, ranging from the tried and true standards to our made-up-on-the-spot crazy ones. She handled every pose like a champ, gave them her all, and it made her final photos that much more explosive.  Even poses I didn’t like during the shoot ended up being some of my favorites because her effort and confidence overshadowed the poses altogether. Remember, photos are digital now. They can be deleted if you end up not liking them, so embrace the awkward and let your photographer direct.

4. Get Inspired

Before your shoot, make a mood board. A mood board is a collection of images you’ve found that hit the same vibe you want your photos to capture. It’s a good reference point for both you and your photographer throughout the entire process. I suggest you go online, find images you like, and create a board on Pinterest with them. This way you can easily email your mood board to your photographer, and it will auto update as you add things. Before her shoot, Megan sent us a mood board with about ten reference images on it, and it really helped guide the entire shoot in the direction she was going for. This is really important, because when someone we’ve never shot with contacts us to do a shoot, it’s a gamble for us to blindly guess what vibe they want the photos to convey. That’s why we love using mood boards to manage our project approach, keep us on track during a shoot, and for reference during our post-process.

5.  Choose Your Photographer Wisely

The above tips are heavily reliant on you selecting an actual professional photographer. Look at their portfolio and make sure they’ve taken commercial grade images. Look at their social media accounts and read their reviews to make sure they aren’t creeps. You can also weed out a lot of bad photographers through their pricing. A solid fitness shoot should start at around $700, so if anyone is charging less than that you probably aren’t going to get high-end photos from them. Other than that, just use your common sense. If you have a hint of doubt that someone isn’t up to the task, move on.

Megan Mae Fitness/Branding Gallery:

The above gallery showcases just a fraction of the awesome images that were taken during that shoot. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to see the other images when we release them. You should also follow Megan Mae’s Instagram at @MeganMaeFit. Thank you for reading, and let us know what you think in the comments below!

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