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Building Your Name In Fitness

Vince Pe

How to Choose the Right Photographer and the Right Shots for Your Bodybuilding Portfolio.

By Vince Pe

So you’ve just competed in your first bodybuilding show, what's the next thing you should do aside from going into an off-season or preparing for your next show? Like all competitors, you spend months (or years) putting together your physique for your short time on the stage so you should, without a doubt; have great photos highlighting your physique. Why spend all that time and effort trying to look your best if you have no evidence of it or, only have images from the contest photographer? It's time to invest in yourself and hire a professional photographer to magnificently capture your hard-earned physique.

This article is for amateur bodybuilders everywhere who take their career seriously and want to build their brand. I’ve seen way too many IFBB Pros and athletes overlook the concept of branding themselves with professional help. Not every IFBB Pro automatically gets booked for photo shoots so it’s imperative to hustle and get the ball rolling. Nothing looks more unprofessional than not having a portfolio or, even worse, a portfolio consisting of iPhone photos from the bathroom or bedroom. Also, never tell anyone that the only way they can see your physique is to visit a contest photographer’s page or find you in random magazine. You will lose credibility.

Find An Industry Phographer
So, whom should you work with to shoot you? Facebook photos are one thing, but athletes who invest in themselves and hire a professional photographer with substantial bodybuilding/fitness experience are the ones that really stand out. In most cases, a photographer outside of the industry just won’t be able to capture your best shots or showcase your best body parts the way a seasoned fitness photographer can. You want someone who is familiar with mandatory bodybuilding poses, who knows how to capture muscle and can bring out your best physique, so that you'll have lots of usable shots for your portfolio – especially images that a magazine will be interested in. Nature, strictly wedding or fashion photographers take fantastic images, but fashion and sexy is not bodybuilding! I suggest you engage a potential photographer on bodybuilding related topics. If they can’t relate, you should find someone who can.

Styling Your Shots
No matter what your budget, if you've finally secured a bodybuilding photographer – even one with moderate experience that can decently capture what you're looking for, tell them what you want. I would suggest some powerful white backdrop shots as well as some gym shots. Choose your favorite images from your old collection of bodybuilding magazines and let the photographer know the style of images you want, especially if you’re paying for it. Be wary of doing things that are “too creative” as directed by the photographer. I’ve seen too many of our athletes in confusing poses or wearing ridiculous outfits.

The white backdrop shots are versatile for portfolio use and can convert to black and white for more variety. If your conditioning is on point, you just might be happier with these images over your on-stage pictures. The same holds true for gym shots. Choose powerful workout movements such as dumbbell or flat bench presses, heavy bicep curls, shoulder presses, heavy leg presses and heavy squats. Throw in some abdominals exercises because you’re shredded. Avoid the abductor machine! If you’re worried about an injury, a seasoned photographer has plenty of tricks up their sleeve to capture those shots in the safest and most efficient way possible. You don’t need to do the entire exercise for some something like this.

Come To Your Photo Shoot In Shape!
The best time to book a photo shoot is immediately after your contest, preferably the day after. If you commit (and invest) in a photo shoot for your own personal brand, you should consider this photo shoot just as important as your competitive show.


The key to your highest fitness level and to being a great bodybuilder is to always plan ahead.

-John Cardillo, Canada’s Premier Fitness Expert

In some cases, the shoot may be even more valuable to you in the long run. Also consider bringing a variety of new, solid-colored clothing to shoot. Nothing looks worse in a hi-resolution photo than old clothes with an awful pattern.

Good Luck!
I hope this article was helpful to you in building your own personal brand. I stress that you capture those magical moments of your peak conditioning with someone talented. There is nothing more useless than being in your absolute best condition at your show in an auditorium filled with family and friends with only a few shots from the show photographer to show for it – you might be disappointed that they missed you. Book a seasoned photographer, get the right shots, and come in shape wearing the right clothes. Be sure to capture that moment that you trained and dieted so hard for so that you get noticed and stay noticed.